After a “cataclysmic” first quarter against Brisbane last weekend, Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna says he’ll watch closely how his AFL team responds.

Their performance against AFL rivals Brisbane was indefensible, now it’s time for Gold Coast’s players to show coach Guy McKenna exactly what they’re made of.

McKenna has labelled the 54-point loss to the Lions last Saturday one of the club’s worst displays in its four-year AFL history, going so far as to call it “cataclysmic” at a press conference on Tuesday.

The most galling aspect of the defeat was a first quarter where the Lions led disposals (125-35), marks (22-1) and clearances (17-6) to take a 41-point lead into quarter-time.

The Suns players were forced to relive that full quarter and all its horrors at their match review on Monday, with McKenna using scathing commentary by premiership duo Alastair Lynch and Jason Dunstall to highlight just what others thought of their display.

With skipper Gary Ablett sidelined for the year and another of the club’s leaders in Nathan Bock calling time on his career on Tuesday following a lengthy battle with a leg injury, McKenna says the way the team responds this Saturday against St Kilda will tell him a lot about the character of the players at his disposal.

“We’re in a trough right now,” McKenna said.

“As tough as Bocky’s decision was, I still see it as a great positive. Sad to see him go but for this group to experience the way we’re feeling right now, mentally and physically, is a great test.

“We’re going to find out a lot about our playing group right now.

“We’ve never been in this position before … Everything’s been going rosy. Well here’s a dip. What do we do now? Do we go down to the watercoooler talks and cry on each other’s shoulders or do we stand and fight? That’s certainly what I’m all about.”

After looking certainties for a first finals appearance with a 7-2 record earlier in the year, the Suns have now slipped out of the eight as their record has slumped to a less appetising 9-8.

Not that McKenna is giving up hope of September footy yet by any means.

“We weren’t hard enough and we weren’t disciplined enough,” McKenna said of the Lions’ loss.

“I don’t think Saturday can come around quickly enough.

“We’re all in this together. You’ve got to help each other out.

“We’re going to fight our way out of this, we’re not fading out of the season. We’re equal eighth, not in the eight because of percentage, but we’ll determine our own destiny, no-one else.”