Fremantle are excited rather than daunted about taking on the best sides leading into finals, according to midfielder Michael Barlow.
Barlow admitted relief was the major emotion after the Dockers kept their top-two hopes alive with a last-gasp five-point victory over Carlton at Patersons Stadium on Thursday night.
But last year's grand finalists will have their premiership credentials tested as they take on Geelong (away), Hawthorn (home), Brisbane (away) and Port Adelaide (home) as finals loom.
"We have got the opportunity to play three of the top five over the next month," Barlow said.
"We welcome that challenge. It is a really exciting period of our season.
"I know a lot of people probably think it's a daunting time, but the old Ross Lyonism: 'To be the best, you have got to beat the best'. So good things lie ahead for us."
Barlow conceded they were outplayed by the Blues for most of the night and believed their ability to pressure their opponents was well down.
"They (Carlton) controlled the ball for probably 65 per cent of the game and we couldn't get it back off them, which was a real area of concern against St Kilda (before the bye)," he said.
"We got a little bit better at it (Thursday night) but it's a real area of concern.
"We'll have to go back to the drawing board a little bit with it because when we're at our best, we are very good at it and restrict other teams' time and space.
"But unfortunately, probably over the last fortnight of games, it has been at a mediocre level.
"We've got to start to replicate some of our football that we were playing in the first half of the year to give ourselves a really good chance going forward.
"If we continue to dish up inconsistent efforts like that then we don't give ourselves much of an opportunity."
Barlow praised teammate Nat Fyfe for his ability to lift when the game was on the line.
Fyfe had 11 disposals, five clearances and dished off a goal to Barlow in the final term.
"He's phenomenal," Barlow said. "Just his will for the contest is first-rate.
"You could arguably say without his impact we wouldn't have been able to impact the scoreboard enough."
Barlow said they would use a long break before their game with the Cats next Saturday night to work on their deficiencies.
"We have got the opportunity to play three of the top five over the next month."" *Michael Barlow *