THE SMATTERING of supporters who went to Casey Fields on Friday to see the powerful new Melbourne forward line in action would have come away disappointed.

Spring-heeled forward Jeremy Howe and boom recruit Chris Dawes both trained beforehand, but then sat and watched from the boundary line as the Demons took part in their modified intraclub practice match ahead of their opening NAB Cup engagements next week.

Instead it was another newcomer who stole the show. Former Geelong small forward Shannon Byrnes kicked five first-half goals and was the clear standout in the scrappy affair that set the scene for the matches against Richmond and North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Melbourne coach Mark Neeld checked his calendar before lavishing too much praise. The real season is still six weeks away but he admitted Byrnes' performance was a pleasing outcome out of the match.

"It's 15 February," Neeld said. "But he's been really good for us over summer with his leadership and the way he plays. For him to come out and play that way was good.

"He might be short in stature but in terms of volume he's pretty loud and that's great for our young players to hear and to see the way he moves."

Fellow recruit David Rodan was also busy forward of the centre, playing for the blue team in the first half before switching sides in the third term. As Neeld goes about refitting the Demons, he'll be comforted in the knowledge that this year, he has several players who know how to find the goals.

"He's similar to Shannon in terms of personality," noted Neeld. "It's like two little mozzies let loose in our change rooms. They've both been around for a while."

Both Dawes and Howe are expected back next weekend, but it will remain some time before the forward line is at full strength, with Mitch Clark an unlikely starter for the season opener against Port Adelaide on 31 March as he recovers from his foot injury.

Clark and co-captain Jack Trengove both rode exercise bikes in the gym at Casey Fields while watching Friday's match through a window.

Neeld and his high performance director Neil Craig were on the ground during the match and directed the umpires to ensure there were extra stoppages throughout. It meant several instances of kick outs after goals and centre bounces and ball-ups around the ground after behinds.

Said Neeld of the performance overall: "It was pretty good. We have gone into this pre-season far more informed about each other and there is a better understanding from the coaching group about what the players are capable of."

Other notable performers for the Demons included No.4 draft selection Jimmy Toumpas and much-hyped father-son selection Jack Viney. Toumpas missed the second term after a knock to the leg but was prolific after half-time while Viney also ran the game out well in the midfield and is clearly showing the benefit of the 12 months he spent at the club last year before being eligible to play.

To that end, the Demons played Jesse Hogan, their 2012 pre-draft selection from the GWS mini-draft, up forward. Hogan was lively early, clunked a great mark on the lead from Toumpas and showed enough to suggest he will be benefit enormously from 12 months in the Melbourne system before making his AFL debut next year.
West Australian draftee Dean Kent also showed some promise up forward and is in the frame to play on Friday night.

Jack Watts spent the entire match at half-back suggesting once again that his days as a key forward for the Demons might be done.