RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick had every right to be furious after the Tigers limp effort against Essendon in Saturday night's "Dreamtime at the G" match at the MCG.
The result from the clash of the sashes was always going to have a huge bearing on the finals aspirations of both clubs.
It was the Bombers who made the dream start when defender Dustin Fletcher goaled from near the 50m arc with the first kick in what was his 383rd match for the club.
What was most galling for Hardwick and Tigers fans as the match rolled on was the lack of fight.
For years the Tigers have sung "a fighting fury" just a few lines before they belt out "yellow and black".
In this contest there was little for Richmond fans to be rapt about.
Fundamental mistakes, often when under little or no pressure, evoked memories of some of Richmond's darkest days.
The stunned look on Hardwick's face after some woeful patches of play said it all.
The stunned look on Hardwick's face after some woeful play said it all
Any coach will accept mistakes if players are having a red-hot go.
How Essendon players could be given so much space to lead into, whether in attack or chip around in defence was remarkable.
Kicking, marking, handpassing take skill and practice.
Being prepared to chase, tackle, spoil, cut off space do not require a lot of skill.
Those parts of the game are more about want and do.
Some players will and some players won't.
For many of the Richmond players it's all about being prepared to work hard.
Being part of September action in consecutive years is unlikely to be achieved by Richmond.
What is important is fighting out every match they play.
How the Tigers complete their run in 2014 will have a huge bearing on membership and sponsorship as they build toward climbing the ladder.
The Tigers only have to look at what Melbourne has achieved this year to know on-field and off-field fortunes can rise quickly.
A year ago and the Demons were the easybeats.
Now the Paul Roos-coached Melbourne are playing more like the Rolling Stones.
The Demons have regained the fire to compete for longer.
They didn't win in the Red Centre against Port Adelaide, but the Demons showed plenty of fight.
Most footy fans can accept defeat when the players give their all.
It's not just about kicking goals and taking the big marks, but the one per centers such as chase, tackle, spoil.
Watch the best teams in any league and it's their workrate when not in possession that often sets them apart.
It's a collective effort they bring to each and every contest.
It's what Richmond's players must do quickly to regain respect.