As Collingwood acted aggressively on its list, cutting three popular senior players, vice-captain Scott Pendlebury moved to dispel the perception coach Nathan Buckley was warring with his team.
After Collingwood confirmed on Tuesday that it had cut premiership players Alan Didak and Darren Jolly, as well as Andrew Krakouer as part of seven changes, Pendlebury said the reality was the Magpies were a mid-table side and had to find a way to improve.
Jolly, Didak and Krakouer are all keen to play on next year, while there is a growing feeling that Dale Thomas may leave the club as a free agent to Carlton.
The Blues will give Thomas a medical examination next week before confirming an offer of up to four years for the running player, who is managing an ankle problem that wrecked his 2013 season.
''There is a perception out there it's Bucks versus the rest. It's completely untrue,'' Pendlebury said.
''It's frustrating this year because we won a lot, we lost a lot as well, and we were really inconsistent as a team.
''What I will say about the year was that I felt the guys were invested and willing to learn every week. We just couldn't put it together as often as we would have liked. I don't think we have to go through a rebuild, we just need to get that hunger back.''
Buckley spoke after the dispiriting loss to Port Adelaide in an elimination final on Saturday night of the need for cultural change and said the club needed to realise time had moved on since its premiership in 2010.
Pendlebury said the loss confirmed Collingwood was a mid-table side. ''We finished eighth on the ladder and we just have got to change and find a way to get better. I am not sure what the magic formula is. It is usually hard work and no doubt when pre-season rolls around again we have to dig deep.''
Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell hit back at former Magpie premiership captain Tony Shaw for calling for him to stand down as captain and potentially retire, saying the game had past him.
Maxwell said on SEN that Shaw had criticised him each year for three years and he would not know what leadership Maxwell offered inside the club.
Collingwood will decide next year's captain over the summer, as normal, with Pendlebury and Maxwell saying they will happily do the job or support the other in the role if that is the choice.
Former Carlton defender Jordan Russell has also not been offered a new contract after one year at Collingwood, and rookie-list players Ben Richmond and Michael Hartley were cut. Ben Johnson retired late in the season.
''I think 'Dids' [Didak] has been a massive part of Collingwood,'' Pendlebury said. ''He was instrumental in the grand final [win]. The best day of my football career I shared with Dids. He was a wonderful character and a premiership player.''
Didak worked his way back into the side late in the season and was a part of the losing team on Saturday, starting as the substitute.
A fan favourite, the crowd erupted and every teammate ran to him when Didak was able to kick a goal in his first game back in the senior team after spending most of the year in the VFL.
''I've had an incredible time at Collingwood,'' Didak said. ''We won a lot of games, won a premiership and I met some lifelong friends. I've got a lot to be thankful for and I know I'm going to miss playing in front of the black-and-white army - I owe them a lot. But I'm not ready for retirement. The ride has another lap or two to go, I hope.''
Didak was highly valued for his effort to play a role in the 2010 premiership win despite a torn pectoral muscle.
Jolly joined Collingwood at the end of 2009 after starting at Melbourne and then playing in Sydney's 2005 premiership side. He was crucial to the Magpies winning the 2010 premiership.
Krakouer, 30, made only eight senior appearances this year and will look to shift to a new club.
''Andrew is confident he has got good football left in him,'' Krakouer's manager, Matt Gray, said. ''He and I will work through the next phase in the next couple of days and work out where we are going.''