MITCH Robinson's Sunday afternoon at the MCG was the exact reflection of Carlton's.
Just like his team, at times he was quiet, looked finished and, without being too blunt, was downright embarrassing.
But ultimately, his second-half surge proved to be a critical component as the Blues came from 32 points down to stun Richmond in their elimination final.
Save for a snapped goal in the second quarter, Robinson had no impact on the first half.
He ended the first quarter on the bench with what looked like a hamstring injury but ended up just being cramp.
At half-time the Lauderdale hardnut had just four touches to his name as the Blues trailed by 26 points.
After the break, the midfielder-half-forward did so much right, winning vital clearances, throwing himself at the contest and, most importantly, kicking the goal that gave Carlton a lead it would not let go.
But one brain-fade with 17 minutes to go had the capability to undo all his good work.
Robinson was penalised for a deliberate rushed behind after punching the ball through the goals on the full from a ruck contest, which allowed Ivan Maric to give Richmond a nine-point lead.
The Tasmanian later admitted he did not know that was against the rules, even though that law has been in place for about four years.
Robinson redeemed himself five minutes later after marking and goaling from the top of the goal-square.
He collected 17 touches in the second half, and had a hand in four Carlton scores (for 3.1).
For the match, the 24-year-old had seven clearances, 10 contested possessions, laid four tackles, applied 16 pressure acts, had seven score involvements and two goal assists.
On the other side of the coin, Clarence's Jack Riewoldt had little impact for the luckless Tigers.
Despite his status as a dual Coleman medallist, Riewoldt spent a lot of the game away from goals.
He dragged Michael Jamison away from the sticks, often starting across half-forward and pushing up the ground.
Early on, it worked beautifully, as it isolated teammates Aaron Edwards and Tyrone Vickery on lesser opponents and limited Jamison's support.
However, Richmond did not make the most of its chances, and it wasn't until Carlton got back into the game that Riewoldt went back to being a true full-forward.
He kicked just 1.0, took six marks and had 11 possessions.
On Friday night, Devonport's Grant Birchall warmed up for his fourth preliminary final with his third outstanding performance against Sydney this year.
Playing either loose in defence, running off Swans tall forwards or shrugging an attempted forward tag by former teammate Ben McGlynn, Birchall was outstanding with 26 touches at a disposal efficiency rate of 96.1 per cent.
The running defender took six marks, had four inside 50s, one rebound 50, two goal assists and seven score involvements.
Since being restricted to 13 disposals in last year's grand final against Sydney, Birchall has collected hauls of 26, 25 and 26 against the reigning premier.