Rhyce Shaw conceded North Melbourne might have brought Ben Cunnington back from injury too early after the tough midfielder failed to see out the 49-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.
Cunnington returned from a back injury to bolster a midfield group that lost skipper captain Jack Ziebell (hamstring) during the week, but it was smashed around the contest by a hungry Bulldogs outfit at Marvel Stadium.
The 29-year-old copped a knock to his back early in the match and also had work done on his groin before quarter-time.
"He wasn't giving us anything from then on in, so it's really disappointing," Shaw said.
"(The knock) was just in one of the contests and it wasn't right.
"He obviously had that issue coming in and it just didn't get any better."
Cunnington had not played since the round-two win over GWS and had been in doubt all week.
"He got up, we were confident and I made a decision to play him, so that's where it sits," Shaw said.
"It possibly was the wrong call, but we were really confident, to be honest, on all the evidence we were given.
"We were happy to play him and going in I was really confident with the way he was going and he warmed up really well. It's just what it is."
North only marginally lost the official contested possession and clearance counts but Shaw was disappointed with his side's performance in those crucial areas.
"We pride ourselves on that, we're a really tough, contested team, but the Bulldogs were really sharp and really impressive around the ball," he said.
"Their ability to get outside of that initial contest, win the ball cleanly and get out is elite. We got shown up."
In addition to Cunnington's injury, Tarryn Thomas was concussed when he took a heavy fall after flying for a huge pack mark before halftime and sat out the second half.
Australian Associated Press