Stunned: Luke Ball trudges off.

Stunned: Luke Ball trudges off. Photo: Pat Scala

AFL legend Wayne Carey has accused Collingwood of playing ''bruise-free'' football, while there is a ''big watch'' on Nick Maxwell and Marty Clarke as the Magpies begin the task of regrouping after a shocking start to the season.

After an even first term, the Magpies were mauled by 70 points by Fremantle in front of a disappointing crowd of 37,571 at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert had expected a crowd of 45,000, while the AFL was confident of 42,000, on a day league boss Andrew Demetriou lamented the unavailability of the MCG to open the season.

The Magpies were unable to deal with Fremantle's sustained pressure and a new, attacking game plan involving quicker ball movement and a desire to seek coast-to-coast goals, using what coach Ross Lyon later branded ''through balls'' rather than kicking sideways and holding up play.

Collingwood’s score (46 points) was its lowest under coach Nathan Buckley and lowest ever against the Dockers, while the losing margin of 70 points was its highest since Buckley took charge in 2012.

That the Magpies were unable to physically worry the Dockers had Carey declaring they had played ‘‘bruise-free’’ football after quarter-time.

''They did not put a finger on Fremantle players for periods of the game,'' Carey said on Triple M. "For some goals, we know the one that went from one end of the ground to the other - when [Hayden] Ballantyne wheeled around and kicked that goal - but the one that shocked me was the one [Ryan] Crowley marked at the top of the square, uncontested ... an uncontested 15-metre chip, that for me was just unforgivable.''

Carey said the Magpies, with power forward Travis Cloke held goalless after being at times triple teamed, had played as bad as struggling Melbourne had last season.

The stinging loss prompted Melbourne great and commentator Garry Lyon to question the futures of Maxwell, the former skipper, and Irishman Clarke, declaring there is a ''big watch'' on the pair in the coming weeks. The Magpies maintained through the pre-season that Maxwell was still in their best 22.

It clearly wasn’t the start the Magpies, even without injured talls Jesse White and Ben Reid, had envisaged, particularly after Pert had said pre-match the Magpies expected to win a flag within the next three years - the life of Buckley’s new contract.

Collingwood has  next weekend off as part of the split round but then face a potentially harrowing six weeks, with Sydney and Geelong in its immediate sights.

Magpies head of football Rodney Eade denied the loss was a reality check but said goalkicking, kicking efficiency and use of the ball was the ''most damning thing for us that we have to get right''.

Buckley, whose anger boiled over at times in the coach's  box, said the ''heat'' was now on the entire club.

"When there’s such contrasts in the way that you perform from quarter to quarter, it puts heat on everyone,'' he said.

"We will more than likely sit at the bottom of the ladder with our percentage at the end of round one, but we will be four points away from the top team. So it’s a loss, it’s a poor loss, but you don’t wrap the season up.

"We’ve clearly got some players who performed really well, but we just didn’t have enough support, there weren’t enough troops, there wasn’t enough weight of numbers for long enough.

"So the heat goes on if you don’t perform - players and coaches and administrators alike.''

Eade said Reid and White would be available to tackle the Swans. Lachlan Keeffe, Alex Fasolo, Jarryd Blair and Sam Dwyer are likely to be in contention for a recall.

* Gold Coast's Sam Day has signed a two-year contract extension.