Carlton are licking their wounds after letting a golden opportunity slip against Collingwood on Sunday, going down by 24 points despite holding an eight-point lead at half time.
The loss, which came against a Pies side missing a number of their best players, means they now face an uphill battle to play finals for the first time since 2013.
Kane Cornes has picked out several of the club’s younger players who have had an underwhelming 2020 season and failed to improve on their efforts from last year.
He said Sam Petrevski-Seton, who was taken with pick six in the 2016 National Draft, was a “classic example” of top-end talent at Carlton underperforming.
“I walk away from the game thinking it’s the same old Carlton and any of the good work that’s been done this year has been erased,” Cornes said on SEN's Whateley.
“Who has improved as aa Carlton player this year? Sam Petrevski-Seton is a classic example, top 10 draft pick, has played some OK footy and started in the midfield before moving to half back. They basically drop him – or manage him – you don’t manage a player for what is a virtual elimination final (against Collingwood on Sunday) so there’s one.
“Paddy Dow has been mentioned, has he improved year-on-year and are you seeing signs of improvement? I don’t think so.
“Harry McKay, how long has he been in the system and is he improving despite showing glimpses. When will he be a consistent performer at this level?
“Who is improving out of the young group that has had so many free kicks and so many elite draft picks so which one of the players are improving and developing?
Cornes said while the club’s investment in development was evident in its recruitment of highly regarded development coaches Jason Davenport and Luke Power, he wondered whether football departments cuts due to COVID-19 were hitting the Blues particularly hard.
Davenport was one of a number of football department staff at the club let go as a result of COVID-related cuts.
“What has been the fall-out of COVID and letting go of your assistant coaches because they’re been so invested in the development space,” he said.
“Jason Davenport and Luke Power have come in so it’s clearly an area they’ve identified so I’m just looking at which Carlton player has improved this year.
“Sam Walsh has improved, there’s no doubt about that and (Jacob) Weitering has been in the system for a long time and he’s had a better year this year than last but which is the young players at Carlton are improving and what is going on with their development.
“We’re six years into a re-build or we’re 20 years into a rebuild but we’re not seeing the improvement that we should be seeing.”
Carlton now face a must-win clash against the GWS Giants on Thursday night if they hold out any hope of keeping their faint finals hopes alive.