IT WAS a strange game that had a little bit of everything - early signs of a blowout. Potential for a startling comeback. Pressure acts. Big hits. An Irish debutant. Sunshine. Rain.
But at the end of the afternoon, Collingwood stuck to the script and took four points from Fremantle at the MCG.
The Pies won by 29 points - 15.17 (107) to 12.6 (78) - in their 10th straight victory, but not before they led by as much as 40 points in the second quarter and then less than three goals in the third.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said the game was lost because of an overuse of handballs and the Magpies' dominance at the centre clearances, but was pleased with his players' endeavour.
"The overall picture [was] we were always on the back foot," Lyon said.
"But I thought our effort in the third quarter early when they were walking into some easy goals [and we made some] chase downs from behind I think if you had have been a Docker member or fan watching that you think, 'This team hasn't given up'."
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said there was plenty the Pies were happy with but conceded their consistency across games needed work.
"We're getting exposure to young players, [and] our best players are playing well when the game's up for grabs," Buckley said.
"But we'd be far from happy if we didn't improve from that.
"We've played some really good footy and we've played some footy that gives the opposition a look.
"We've got to remedy that as the season progresses."
Brownlow medalist Dane Swan was dynamic, producing his third consecutive 30 possession-plus game since he missed two with a hamstring. In fact, he cleared 40 for the third time this year with a total of 43.
He was crucial in the third when Fremantle kicked three straight goals to be within 17 points. He finished off with 13 final quarter possessions.
It came after a bizarre first half when the visitors were bereft of scoring opportunities.
They managed two behinds for the first quarter, which left them goalless in the opening stanza for the second time this season.
In the second, it took time for things to improve.
There was a remarkable statistic 10 minutes into the quarter. The Magpies had accumulated 41 possessions in their forward half. Fremantle had racked up one.
The Pies' dominance was summed up when Michael Johnson attempted to run the ball out from full back and was caught front-on by Alex Fasolo.
Fasolo's tackle resulted in a goal to Jackson Paine, which pushed the Pies out to the 40-point lead.
It was a wake-up call for Freo. After the Paine goal, the visitors had three shots at goal in four minutes.
Chris Mayne took their first mark inside 50 at the 16-minute mark, which resulted in their first goal.
Tyson Goldsack went behind the ball for the Pies in an attempt to arrest Freo's sudden surge.
But badly shanked set shots from Zac Clarke and Matthew Pavlich saw opportunities missed, although the former made up for it with a goal before half time and the latter with five for the game.
The margin at half-time was 25 points, which was flattering considering the Magpies had dominated in forward entries 32 to 15.
Lachie Neale was subbed out with a foot problem in the third and Clancee Pearce had his right ankle repeatedly treated, but Fremantle reported no serious injuries.
Goldsack was heavily bumped by Nick Lower in the third quarter but it was Travis Cloke who was subbed out in the final term.
Buckley said Cloke had copped a knock but the move was more structural given it had started raining, and he had also considered subbing out ruckman Darren Jolly given the need to go small.