St Kilda coach Alan Richardson admits his team took a backwards step in Sunday's 103-point loss to West Coast, saying his players run the risk of becoming ordinary unless they rediscover their intensity.
The Saints were seemingly on the improve this season after pushing flag fancies Hawthorn and North Melbourne all the way, as well as beating Collingwood and Melbourne.
But they came crashing back to earth on Sunday in their 20.12 (132) to 3.11 (29) defeat at Domain Stadium.
West Coast led 57-1 late in the first quarter after spearhead Josh Kennedy booted his fifth goal, and things barely improved from that point on for the Saints.
Richardson was shocked by the nature of the defeat, saying he didn't see it coming at all.
And he won't be writing off the result any time soon.
"We can't just pretend that this is just an aberration. This was real," Richardson said.
"We need to learn from it.
"There's some really obvious lessons for our guys, that if we don't come with the physicality and intensity like we did the previous two games against the Demons and the Kangaroos, then we can be a pretty ordinary footy team."
Richardson is confident his players will atone in Sunday's clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium.
Veteran defender Sam Fisher is expected to return from injury, while ruckman Tom Hickey will have a point to prove after being singled out by Richardson after Sunday's loss.
Hickey tallied 26 hit-outs from 11 disposals, but Nic Naitanui's dominance in the ruck allowed West Coast's runners to unleash all sorts of carnage at ground level.
"That was Hickey's worst game," Richardson said.