THERE was no mistaking how much Sunday's thrilling eight-point win over Collingwood meant to Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney.
He was immensely proud of his charges after they responded to intense scrutiny with a stunning upset of the top-four hopefuls.
"We haven't had a lot of wins, so they're all bloody good," McCartney said post-match.
"We had an eight-day break (to Collingwood's six) and maximised it. I've got a lot of respect for Collingwood ... they'll bounce back.
"We hung on today. We beat a really good opposition. It was a good result for our players and our club."
RECAP: Read the match report and watch highlights from the Bulldogs' win over Collingwood.
McCartney has repeatedly stated how the Dogs' improvement was evident in their ability to hang in games for longer.
On Sunday, they took it to another level by hitting back each time after Collingwood surged.
"They can really rebound and smash out of their backline and open you up. They did it a few times today. They had, I think, three three-goal surges and we were able to just get it done," McCartney said.
"That's what these players want to be seen as and want to be known as. They haven't enjoyed going missing for little patches.
"They want to be better than that and they want to be more resilient than that.
"My feeling is they'll probably - no, they'll definitely - become that way because it's super-important to them."
PHOTO GALLERY: View the best match photos from the Bulldogs' win over Collingwood.
Pleasingly for the Bulldogs, it was a mixture of their old guard and emerging youngsters who drove the win.
Captain Ryan Griffen stood up after some lean games by his lofty standards with 27 touches and two important goals.
"Until he got the cork in his calf he was surging and powerful. That's been building a bit, he's been beaten by a couple of players this year that are very good at that side of the game," McCartney said.
"(Missing part of pre-season) certainly has hampered him. But in his heart he's very passionate about becoming a terrific leader and a terrific captain in his footy club and helping his younger teammates."
Veterans Robert Murphy and Daniel Giansiracusa were also important, but the younger brigade of Tom Liberatore, Luke Dahlhaus, Jack Macrae, Marcus Bontempelli, Mitch Wallis and Liam Jones all stepped up.
"Even the last two days our VFL youngsters were brilliant yesterday against a really mature club," McCartney said.
"We believe we've got a really solid, consistent, formulated coaching program and we're giving young people a chance to learn the game and be rewarded for being honest, team-based players.
"But there was a couple of warm fuzzy moments when some of our kids did some really significant things today.
"They all did their bit today."
TALKING POINTS: Read the five key discussion topics emerging from the Bulldogs' win.
The Dogs' win was all the more meritorious given Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury in the opening term.
McCartney could not confirm how bad the issue was but Cooney will miss at least one match.
The Bulldogs face Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.