Geelong have held on for a 12-point win over an inaccurate Carlton on Friday night at Etihad Stadium as the Blues slumped to their fourth loss from the last five games.
In what may prove a season-defining affair for both sides, Carlton opened with real intent and dominated the early stages, with Eddie Betts scoring three of his four goals for the night in a sizzling first term.
But the Blues also failed to make the most of their chances and several missed shots at goal - including at least five posters - ultimately proved costly as Geelong gradually took control of the contest and eventually came away with the 14.13 (97) to 11.19 (85) result in the second half.
Carlton weren't helped by the fact ruckman Robbie Warnock, who had dominated the hit-outs during the first half, was forced off the field in the third quarter with hip/groin soreness following a marking contest.
And, without Warnock in the ruck, the Cats dominated the stoppages after half-time as skipper Joel Selwood (29 possessions, two goals), James Kelly (23) and Jimmy Bartel (20) reaped the benefits.
Although the Cats were missing James Podsiadly in the forward half after he was forced out at the last minute with a hip injury, Geelong still found plenty of avenues to goal as Steven Motlop booted four, three of which came in the second term.
Along with Betts' four goals, Kade Simpson was also impressive for Carlton off half-back posting 31 disposals as he returned to some of his early-season form, while Brock McLean had 28 touches and Chris Judd 25.
But it was a somewhat dirty night for the Blues skipper, who struggled to really dominate the contest and made two crucial mistakes in the third term as the Cats turned a six-point half-time deficit into a six-point lead.
The first of which was a handball at Eddie Betts' legs when the speedster could have run straight through at goal, while a dropped mark in the 23rd-minute led to a brilliant goal from Geelong as Bartel somehow handballed through a cluster of legs to release Motlop through on goal, the major giving the Cats a lead they didn't relinquish.
Geelong certainly opened with intent as Mitch Duncan scored the opening goal in the first minute but from there on, the quarter belonged to Carlton, who looked hell bent on atoning for last week's dismal effort against Port.
Using their pace to full effect, the Blues fired off three goals in seven minutes and looked light years better than the listless outfit that's struggled over the last month.
Betts was the catalyst, booting two brilliant goals as he used his speed to full effect either side of a stunning running goal from Mitch Robinson that certainly had the Carlton crowd up and about.
The Cats had appeared to settle, but Betts left his best piece of magic for just before quarter-time as he ducked and weaved and made Josh Hunt pay dearly for his messed-up kick-in with a brilliant snapped goal as the Blues led by 14 at the first change.
The Blues should have been much further ahead, however, as Jeff Garlett, Lachie Henderson and Judd all missed very gettable chances when Carlton had full control of the contest.
Geelong, of course, made Carlton pay for their misses as they gradually ate away at the margin, reducing it to just a goal by the main break as Motlop came into his own, booting three goals in a sensational term.
The Blues, though, were kept in it by some basic discipline errors from the Cats as Taylor Hunt and Motlop gave away 50-metre penalties that led to the Blues scoring their two goals for the quarter.
However, the Cats lifted another gear after half-time and with Warnock out of the picture took control of the contest in the middle as they piled on five goals to three in the third term to re-take the lead and ultimately come away with the win.
However, Carlton will only have themselves to blame for the loss, as they kept on coming in the final term, but failed to make the Cats pay as they booted nine behinds for the quarter.
CARLTON: 4.4, 6.6, 9.10, 11.19 (85)
GEELONG: 2.2, 5.7, 10.10, 14.13 (97)
GOALS: Carlton: Betts 4, Robinson, Collins, Armfield, Gibbs, Kreuzer, Tuohy, Judd
Geelong: Motlop 4, Selwood 2, Duncan 2, Chapman, Bartel, T.Hunt, Hawkins, West, Stokes
BEST: Carlton: Simpson, Betts, McLean, Armfield
Geelong: Selwood, Bartel, Motlop, Kelly, Stokes, Chapman
INJURIES: Carlton: Warnock (hip)
Geelong: Stokes (cork)
CHANGES: Geelong: James Podsiadly (hip) replaced in selected side by Jesse Stringer
UMPIRES: McBurney, Rosebury, Wenn
CROWD: 47,642 at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne