After their lacklustre effort in round one, North Melbourne face another tough AFL battle on Sunday against the Western Bulldogs.

Ex-Brisbane Lion Brad Scott was the kind of straight-ahead defender who gave his AFL opponents sleepless nights.

The North Melbourne coach has been just as direct on the track this week.

The straight shooter has had little time for gentle persuasion in response to his side’s 39-point loss to Essendon in round one.

It was a performance Scott described as the worst he’d seen at North since taking over in 2010.

“There wasn’t a lot of picking players up and cuddling them this week,” Scott told reporters on Thursday.

“It was some cold, hard facts and holding people accountable to their jobs.”

Fellow first-round losers Western Bulldogs host the Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and Scott expects a fierce contest.

“They were a very good contested ball side last year,” Scott said.

Media commentators have been savage on the Kangaroos this week, following a raft of prominent pundits tipping them in pre-season to climb back into the top eight in 2014.

Drew Petrie had three disposals last week and five-time club champion Brent Harvey has also been under fire.

Scott scoffed at a suggestion Harvey, 35, wasn’t a big-game player.

“It’s a ludicrous comment. Brent Harvey’s one of the biggest game players there’s ever been,” Scott said.

“When you lose, you get criticised. We wear it.

“We act on what’s appropriate and we disregard what’s inappropriate.

“When our best players don’t perform to standard, my job is to help them as much as I can, and I’ve certainly done that this week.

“You can open the excuse book or you can just cop the criticism and get on with it and let your actions do the talking.

“I’m confident those two will do that.”

Some commentators have called for midfielders Jack Ziebell and triple All-Australian Nick Dal Santo to be dropped. Scott says he’s backing his senior players to lift.

North’s defensive work rate in the midfield has also been criticised, and Scott acknowledges things need to change.

“We sat back and hoped they’d kick it back to us, hoped they’d make some mistakes,” Scott said.

“That’s not the way you beat good sides. You beat good sides by taking it right up to them and we certainly didn’t do that.”