Preliminary final hero Luke Ball has hailed the Magpies' three-point win over Hawthorn in Friday night's epic clash as the best he's ever played in.
"All things considered, high stakes, quality of opposition, we really didn't play well for two and a half to three quarters," said Ball at Saturday morning's recovery session.
"And then to really dig in and persist and find a way to win, in the end was a pretty special win."
"The only way to go when you're four goals down at three-quarter time in a prelim is to throw caution to the wind a bit, have a bit of a crack and start winning the ball around the middle."
"Luckily we were able to kick those goals in the end."
Ball, who snapped the winning goal, said he was relieved to 'hit it flush'.
He conceded the Magpies had doubts about their ability to come back from 17 points down at the final change after having been outplayed for much of the contest.
Their responsibilities were spelled out clearly by coach Mick Malthouse who broke down in tears after the final siren at the realisation that he would coach the side for one last time in next week's grand final.
"He was probably more angry and agitated at three-quarter time of how we were playing rather than emotional about the fact that it might be his last game," said Ball.
"It was more about concentrating about what we needed to do to get back in the game."
"Early in the last quarter it just didn't feel like we were going to be able to kick three or four goals."
"We'd only kicked five up to three-quarter time and you do start to doubt it looking at the clock, but it was one for persistence."
Ball said Malthouse wasted little time in setting his focus on next week's premiership decider against the winner of Saturday's Geelong-West Coast clash.
"I think the tears had dried by the time he got down to the rooms," he said.
"He was pretty circumspect, realising the job's not done."
"He was certainly proud of the group and the way they fought it out, but he was pretty quick to move on to the fact that we're going to have another tough opponent."
"We've won the right to play in the grand final but as much as no-one hands you a pass to the grand final, no-one hands you a premiership either so we've got a lot of work to do."