Carlton's first-year AFL captain Marc Murphy says critics of himself and Bryce Gibbs have been justified at times this year, but the pair are responding when it counts.
Murphy, Gibbs and former skipper Chris Judd, in his return from a knee injury, all played central roles as the Blues came from 32 points down to upset Richmond in Sunday's elimination final at the MCG.
Murphy and Gibbs were also pivotal in the Blues' comeback win over Port Adelaide eight days earlier.
"The last couple weeks when our backs have been against the wall and myself as well, it's when you really want to stand up," Murphy told reporters on Monday.
"I've been pretty happy with the way I've responded in the last couple weeks, but it's only two games.
"Finals footy is where you want to step up as an individual."
Murphy admitted he had found taking on the captaincy a challenge and his season had been inconsistent.
Fellow former No.1 draft pick Gibbs has also had the odd down patch, prompting some outside the club to tout him as potential trade bait earlier in the season, although that idea was given short shrift by coach Mick Malthouse
"When things aren't going well Bryce and I seem to cop a bit of it," Murphy said.
"That's fair enough, as good players you need to be playing well every week for the club.
"When your performance isn't good enough it's fair enough that you get criticised.
"I think Bryce can be pretty happy with his performances over the past couple of weeks and he's really stood up for us as a leader."
Murphy said the team as a whole were starting to earn some respect and justify their admission to the finals, which only came because Essendon were disqualified.
They next face Sydney in an ANZ Stadium semi-final on Saturday night.
Blues midfielder Brock McLean (quad) remains in doubt after being a last-minute withdrawal on Sunday.
The Swans could regain superstar Adam Goodes from a knee injury for his first game since round 13 and have had two extra days to prepare, after losing their qualifying final to Hawthorn on Friday night.
Carlton haven't played at ANZ Stadium since losing an elimination final there by five points in 2010.
But they'll take plenty of belief into the clash with the reigning premiers.
"We're looking forward to the opportunity to test ourselves against the best, that's the way we're approaching it," Murphy said.