North Melbourne coach Brad Scott is confident the Kangaroos will eventually gain from their season of AFL pain.

Friday night's 16.13 (109) to 16.12 (108) loss to Carlton at Etihad Stadium was North's fifth this year by less than a goal and second by a single point.

It's left them on a 6-10 record and, despite having regularly challenged the competition's best sides, all but out of finals contention.

Scott, whose team came from 35 points down in the third quarter to almost overhaul the Blues, said the frequent agonising defeats could become a negative or positive, depending on how the club reacted.

"This season is just unfolding in extraordinary circumstances for us," he said.

"It can be the making of us or it can be the undoing of us so we've got to make sure that it is the making of us.

"If you do have great intestinal fortitude and character, you build on these things and this could be a platform for us in the future.

"But it will only be that if we make it."

He was confident his players possessed the right character to do so.

"All the intangibles that have been spoken about - heart, desire, endeavour, spirit - we've got that in spades," he said.

Scott said the positive was that unlike their previous close losses this season - when they have been seemingly in control only for opposition sides to overwhelm them - this time, they were the ones to turn the tide.

"We were able to not only halt the momentum but shift it back the other way," he said.

"There's no doubt that's a step forward."

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse, whose side had lost their three previous games decided by single-figure margins this season, said it was a relief.

But he said the Blues still had a lesson to learn, having missed some simple scoring chances in the last quarter to keep the Kangaroos in with a chance.

"When you've got the opportunity, you've got to take that opportunity to kick a goal and that puts some things to bed pretty early," Malthouse said.

"Those misses meant they kept on coming and full credit to North Melbourne.

"But I also say it's full credit to our blokes without any dominant midfield player and to still win was pretty good."

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