Trips to the dentist are never fun, and while the MCG is about as far from a dentist's surgery as you can get, St Kilda's performance against Carlton was like "pulling teeth" for caretaker coach Brett Ratten.
The Saints dominated periods of the match and were in front until a Josh Deluca goal in the 20th minute of the final term gave the Blues the lead.
Ratten's side had their chances, but poor disposal inside 50 and failing to capitalise on clearances led to a 10-point loss.
"There's a lot of frustration. We did things in the game that were really good, some of our clearance work and the way we went about it was really encouraging," Ratten said.
"The way we finished off and the things we were trying to do from half-time onwards, we didn't get right. That allowed Carlton to get into the game.
"We just – didn't hand them the game – but we made it easier for them to penetrate with their offence from their D50.
"We just needed to get a contest forward of the ball, just to make sure we could get some opportunities to score. We chipped away, but it was like pulling teeth in the second half."
In the absence of Liam Jones (fractured larynx) and late withdrawal Jacob Weitering (groin), key back Levi Casboult was a thorn in St Kilda's side, forcing Jake Carlisle to swing from defence to cover him in the last quarter.
RATTEN: Post-match address
"Today we squandered numerous opportunities, whether it was fumbling with the ball [or] we missed execution. Casboult really dominated, we couldn't even test out their defenders at ground level sometimes because he just marked the ball," Ratten said.
"Nine intercept marks is a huge day, he was clearly best on ground. That's why we had to put Carlisle there, to maybe just halve the contest and bring the ball to ground."
In a positive for the Saints, mature-age draftee Nick Hind (two goals) showed a lot of spark playing off the forward flank, while Jack Steele battled hard against Carlton superstar Patrick Cripps, laying 14 tackles.
"Hindy has had a couple of weeks of really good form. He's got great speed and changes angles with the footy, he's going really well," Ratten said.
"Steele, he's a very good player. He plays on the best players nearly every week. Last week he lowered his colours to (Nat) Fyfe, but today, he kept Cripps pretty quiet and did a fantastic job.
"When you look at his year, and the challenges that are thrown at him, there's no doubt he'd win 80 per cent of those battles which is just phenomenal when you think he's against the A-graders, the top of the tree in clearances and he beats them all the time."
Caretaker coaches Rhyce Shaw (North Melbourne) and David Teague (Carlton) have been appointed to the senior roles at their respective clubs.
But Ratten said he didn't feel Saturday's loss would affect his chances at the Saints, despite saying it was the worst loss the team has had under his watch.
"We're just going about our business, and whatever comes our way as a football club. Today was probably a kick up the backside because of the way we went about it in the second half. That's for other people to judge," he said.