Have the Pies finally turned the corner?
AS FAR as season-defining moments go - perhaps even coach-defining matches - this one might be right up there for Collingwood and Nathan Buckley.
While one win doesn't necessarily make a season, the manner in which the Magpies systematically smashed 2017 grand finalist Adelaide with a mix of what Adam Treloar called "contested footy ground ball warfare", slick handball and direct disposal was a significant statement.
Now the Magpies have to make that a template for the future, instead of being a flash in the pan.
The coach and his team went in with a plan, which has happened before.
The effort has been there before (it mostly is with the Magpies), but this time the application of it was near flawless, despite the torrential conditions at times.
No coach has endured as much attention and pressure as Buckley in his time in black and white, and it's fair to say few have endured the injury issues that he has encountered in his seven years in the position.
But none of that matters when a team is aligned as passionately as Collingwood was on Friday night, and the 48-point victory might have been the coach's most important - and impressive - win since the end of his first season in 2012 when the club made a preliminary final.
The Magpies outworked and out-thought the Crows, and at one stage of the game Collingwood's players had run 10km more than their opponents - an indictment on the work rate of the Adelaide squad.
Buckley was smiling after the game, and admitted to enjoying the moment. Why wouldn't he?
Let's look at the reasons why.
For once, this was a story not about what Collingwood was missing, but what it actually had.
While a host of players including Jamie Elliott, Taylor Adams, Daniel Wells, Darcy Moore and others were out injured, the focus was more on what the core group remaining was able to do.
This was more about system than stars, although the Magpies had plenty of the latter, while some of the Crows' most important players went missing during the contest.
Memo to All-Australian selectors. You might want to jot Steele Sidebottom's name down now.
Yes, there is a long way to go in season 2018, but Sidebottom's start has been off the charts.
Incredibly, for some bizarre reason, the man who wears one of the most revered jumpers in the club's history (No.22) has never before been part of the All-Australian squad, let alone in the actual team.
The kid who almost won a Norm Smith Medal as a teenager has graduated into a bona fide star. The 27-year-old won the Copeland Trophy last year and it is no exaggeration to suggest he has become the Magpies' most damaging player.
Brodie Grundy is in career-best form, and given he is about to turn 24 on Sunday, still has enormous upside.
In what appears to be a purple patch for ruckmen, Grundy adds an extra dimension in that he plays like an extra midfielder, whose second efforts at the contest are so important.
The Magpies' recruiting has been under fire in recent seasons, but their yield from last year looks - after an early sample - impressive.
Jaidyn Stephenson looks a jet, and while he is only 19, and still has some areas he needs to work on, he looks to be the X-factor the club has been crying out for.
Add in Sam Murray, who gives the Magpies that risk and reward from the backline. The Pies copped some criticism for trading for him from Sydney last October. All that has dissipated in four weeks.
The Magpie fans have been a little impatient - with good reason - for some time now. But the patience surrounding the club could finally be about to pay a dividend.
First, the board stuck with Buckley when others were calling for his head. But the patience in backing some of the players has been just as significant.
The club stuck by Josh Thomas after his two-year drugs ban, and he is starting to pay them back. After a strong pre-season, Thomas is making a difference through the middle and his capacity to hit the scoreboard is an added bonus.
Good mates Matt Scharenberg and James Aish haven't had much luck with their bodies, but (touch wood) seem to be getting a clear run now.
As angry as Collingwood was with Jordan De Goey for his drink-driving indiscretion, they put their arms around him when he returned, and he makes a huge difference to the structure of the team. He crashes packs, plays like a bull and gives the team a different look when he is in the side.
Callum Brown attacks the ball ferociously and is getting better, Tom Phillips keeps racking up the possessions and Will Hoskin-Elliott is in good form.
And Mason Cox has come in for plenty of criticism in his short but much talked about career, but the Pies have stuck with him.
Cox didn't trouble the stats men much on Friday night - five disposals and one mark - but his impact shouldn't be measured on stats, as Buckley said in his presser. He competed and brought the ball to ground - and his teammates did the rest.
There is a long way to go in season 2018, but Collingwood needs to make that sort of performance the norm, and not something we only see every few weeks.