Fremantle midfielder Tendai Mzungu expects the club to reap the benefits of a challenging pre-season when the home-and-away games start next month.
The Dockers were overrun by Adelaide at AAMI Stadium on Saturday after the Crows made six changes at half-time and then Fremantle lost Michael Walters and Stephen Hill to injury.
Already without Matt de Boer, who withdrew from the practice match because of a corked thigh, and having rested Nat Fyfe for the first term, the fatigued Dockers were ambushed as Adelaide turned a 35-point deficit into a five-point win, 13.11 (89) to 13.6 (84).
It was the second week in a row Fremantle had played under significant fatigue after half-time. The Dockers beat Geelong in the opening NAB Cup game, then made limited changes to the line-up before facing a rested West Coast.
Mzungu said pre-season games were the perfect way to get fit for round one, against West Coast on March 23, and the players were happy to face the physical challenges.
"You really do notice it when a fresh team comes out. They move really fast," Mzungu said.
"But to be able to stem the tide in that last quarter with Adelaide and grind it out is really pleasing. It's something we'll take into the season, knowing that at the back end of games we can really run it out.
"We're all competitive beasts and we want to win. But at the end of the day, it's about getting into good habits and being able to implement it under pressure when the real stuff starts in round one."
Fremantle dominated the first half when they had seven more inside 50s, 12 more tackles and won the clearances 21-17.
Walters, Michael Barlow, Fyfe and Mzungu put pressure on the Adelaide midfield and the Dockers had nine goal kickers.