Jamie Elliott is expected to make his long-awaited AFL return for Collingwood in round one, despite sitting out the end of Monday's narrow trial win over Carlton.
Elliott left the field late in the third term at Morwell after kicking his second goal in the 11.11 (77) to 10.13 (73) win and did not return.
But coach Nathan Buckley said that was precautionary for the injury-plagued goalsneak, who had not played at senior level since the end of the 2017 season.
Key defender Darcy Moore, who only managed seven senior games last year because of injury, capped his solid pre-season by outshining Blues forward Charlie Curnow.
While Elliott and Moore will be major returns against Geelong on March 22 for the losing grand finalists, key position player Ben Reid suffered another soft-tissue injury on the weekend while playing in the VFL.
"He wanted to continue, he wanted to keep going, but that was our call just to pull him," Buckley said of Elliott.
"He's had a really strong pre-season, he's been in great shape and he's cherry ripe for the beginning of the year.
"Billy's got the capacity to hit the scoreboard and I think he's underrated for his ability to play a role, make the right decisions at the right time, and the contest that he wins and on the ground.
"His capacity to finish is the cream on top."
While Elliott and Moore have enjoyed encouraging pre-seasons, Reid must overcome yet another injury setback.
"We're really disappointed for Reidy," Buckley said.
"He's had a really strong pre-season. It's bad timing, and it's frustrating for Reidy and for us."
Carlton's No.1 draft pick Sam Walsh was almost the hero, having a shot at goal to give the Blues the lead with two minutes left.
But his kick from 50m did not quite have the distance and the Magpies held on for the win.
The Blues continue to show encouraging signs, kicking four goals to two in the last quarter.
After trailing all day, they drew level before Josh Thomas' third goal put the Magpies ahead again.
Walsh impressed again in the pre-season with 23 possessions and is a certainty to make his debut in round one against Richmond.
The Magpies had far more ball, with 440 possessions to 229, as they showcased their quality midfield depth.
Adam Treloar returned after an interrupted pre-season and shone with a game-high 42 disposals, while Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams and Scott Pendlebury were also prolific.
Brodie Grundy was outstanding in the ruck and third-year player Callum Brown also impressed.
New co-captain Patrick Cripps and defender Liam Jones starred and Harry McKay kicked three goals.