North Melbourne coach Brad Scott hailed Daniel Wells' determination and Lindsay Thomas' leadership after a 40-point win over Collingwood.
The Kangaroos snapped a five-game losing streak on Friday night, kicking clear with the final four goals of an eventful contest at Etihad Stadium,
The drama started during North's warm-up, when Wells limped off the field and looked to be in great distress.
Scott revealed it was an upper-back issue that almost forced a last-minute change to his side.
"It was impacting on his breathing. Until we could free that up, we just weren't confident that he'd be able to work as hard as he needed to work," Scott said.
"But our doctors and physios did a lot of work on him .. he was confident so we pulled the trigger."
Wells finished with 29 disposals but tallied 11 possessions in the opening term, busting the game open with his dash and clean disposal.
"He just couldn't have responded any better," Scott said.
"Once he declared himself fit, he was determined to get out there and do the job."
Thomas produced his greatest haul of the season, booting five goals.
Scott was just as impressed with the way the 28-year-old addressed his fellow forwards at halftime.
"When I first met Lindsay I couldn't get two words out of him. Now he's holding court in meetings," Scott said.
"He really is an inspiration to a lot of people.
"He's a star .. it's an absolute credit to himself and his family."
Drew Petrie returned to form with a team-high seven tackles but Scott wouldn't be drawn on whether the veteran forward will be asked to play on in 2017.
"It's too far into the future. Drew and I have done a lot of work on just staying really focused on the present," he said.
"That's really difficult. We both acknowledge at times we're thinking about 2017.
"His effort and pressure tonight was just outstanding. He really led the way in the forward half in terms of pressure."
Scott was also full of praise for a mark-of-the-year contender from Majak Daw.
"I only saw it live. I didn't watch the replay but that is almost the best mark I've ever seen," Scott said.
"He can do incredible things."
Scott suggested it was too early to say whether his side had turned the corner and was unsure whether Jarrad Waite would return from a hip injury next weekend.