West Coast's chorus of doubters might not be silenced yet, despite the reigning premier holding on for a white-knuckle win over a brave Gold Coast by 23 points at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
Ultimately, their five-goal-to-one second term – inspired by under-scrutiny forward Jack Darling's three majors – was the difference in a tense 11.14 (80) to 8.9 (57) triumph.
While the Suns lost their eighth game from as many attempts against the Eagles in Perth, they arguably finished the contest more content after fighting back from 42 points down midway through the third quarter.
Refusing to give in and urged on by coach Stuart Dew from the interchange bench, the visitors booted five unanswered goals either side of three-quarter time to give West Coast a major scare – which could have been even bigger if not for wasted opportunities.
They closed to within 11 points entering time-on in the final term after leading goalkicker Alex Sexton finally broke free of Brad Sheppard's (25 disposals) clutches and hit the scoreboard.
But it was Darling, scoreless in the past two losses, who iced the game with four minutes left after finding space 30m out and clutching Andrew Gaff's pass to his chest and squeezing through his fourth major.
After back-to-back losses to the Crows and Lions, it was a morale-boosting effort on the road for Gold Coast and the Suns will take great belief from a spirited display.
Restricting the Eagles' ball movement after half-time, the Suns got under West Coast's skin and even normally unflappable skipper Shannon Hurn lashed out in the final term after some treatment over the boundary line, sparking an ugly melee next to the interchange bench.
Jarrod Harbrow (30 disposals) was outstanding for the visitors across half-back, while Jack Martin (29) inspired the second-half fightback and Jarrod Witts (14 disposals, 60 hitouts) dominated late call-up Nathan Vardy (four, 30) in the ruck and around the ground.
West Coast had 29 more disposals, four more contested possessions, laid 30 more tackles, won 10 more clearances and entered 50 on six more occasions than the visitors.
WEST COAST 3.6 8.8 9.12 11.14 (80)
GOLD COAST 1.3 2.5 5.8 8.9 (57)
West Coast: Darling 4, Kennedy 2, Sheed 2, Cripps, Ryan, Yeo
Gold Coast: Powell 2, Wright 2, Bowes, Holman, Miles, Sexton
West Coast: Sheppard, Sheed, Yeo, Darling, McGovern, Gaff
Gold Coast: Harbrow, Martin, Witts, Powell, Miles, Fiorini
West Coast: Nil
Gold Coast: Nil
Umpires: Stevic, Gavine, Howorth
Official crowd: 47,497 at Optus Stadium