Carlton stunned the reigning premiers in Thursday night’s season opener, ramming through the first five goals of the match in 11 minutes.
While the Tigers quickly stopped the rot and then kicked clear in the last term for a 26-point win, they were well off their best.
Coach Damien Hardwick warned that last year is history and they must improve quickly to be ready for the Crows at the Adelaide Oval cauldron.
“That can’t help us anymore. That’s done,” he said of their drought-breaking premiership.
“I know the flag (unfurling) was exciting, but that can’t help us in season 2018.
“We have to improve again – last year we were the best side for seven weeks, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to be the best side this week.”
Hardwick bemoaned Carlton’s seven goals from free kicks, saying that was often enough to decide the match.
Richmond gave away four 50m penalties that gifted Carlton goals – all from the AFL’s crackdown on the protected zone.
“As long as it’s consistently paid for the remainder of the weekend, I’m happy,” Hardwick said of the new interpretation.
“That way, we know what we’re playing with.
“We gave away too many cheap free kicks.”
Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin was their best player, but he was not at his peak and only kicked 1.3.
“He was probably reflective of us as a side – he was okay in stages, but he certainly has work to do,” Hardwick said.
Alex Rance and David Astbury impressed Hardwick in defence, while Jacob Townsend (four goals) and Jack Graham (13 tackles) carried on from last year’s late-season heroics.
An obvious worry was their ruck deficiency whenever Toby Nankervis was off the ground.
“It’s a concern, but you can worry about it or accept it may happen,” Hardwick said.
“We play our best footy at this stage without a second tall or a second ruck, but we’re really confident we have some players who are developing.”
Hardwick paid credit to Carlton, saying they took it up to his team and were now playing with more attacking flair.
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