PORT Adelaide inflicted the first blow in Melbourne's disastrous 2019 season and may have put the insipid Demons' campaign this year on life support as well.
The Power took barely a minute to kick the game's opening goal and had six on the board before Christian Petracca finally ended Melbourne's drought with 67 seconds left in the first half.
Any internal hopes Petracca might kickstart a Demon revival after half-time were quickly quashed as Port cruised to a 12.11 (83) to 4.8 (32) victory at the Gabba on Thursday night.
As strange as it sounds, it was a much-needed result for the competition's top side after an underwhelming month.
The Power suffered both their season losses in that time – the last of them on Saturday night to St Kilda – and also escaped against Carlton with a brilliant Robbie Gray goal after the final siren.
No such Gray heroics were necessary on this night, with Port Adelaide repeatedly displaying slick ball movement only matched by their off-the-ball efforts.
Travis Boak (25 disposals, nine score involvements) bounced back from a quiet outing in the defeat to the Saints to be one of the game's most influential players – but had no shortage of allies.
Third-gamer Mitch Georgiades led the way in attack with three goals, and missed a late set shot for a fourth, to alleviate any worries of how the Power would cope without Todd Marshall.
Ollie Wines and Karl Amon (both 25) each had 11 touches by quarter-time and never let up, while Sam Mayes' career renaissance raged on with 19 possessions and a goal.
Four days after doing everything but beat Brisbane, Melbourne wilted under Port's pressure but was also its own worst enemy going inside 50. It's not a new problem for the Demons under Simon Goodwin.
The short turnaround offers them an excuse but that's cold comfort as they contemplate needing to win six or even seven of their final nine games to qualify for the finals.
Steven May toiled hard on Charlie Dixon to keep him to one goal but Melbourne again failed to capitalise on Max Gawn's hitout dominance.
In-form trio Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney were all wasteful with ball in hand as the Dees' redemption hopes begin to fade.
Hey there, Georgie boy
We liked what we saw from first-round draftee Mitch Georgiades in his second senior game a week ago but he was even better on Thursday night. He made Oscar McDonald look silly when he lost him in the first minute for a nice mark and that moment set the tone for the 18-year-old. Georgiades' three-goal haul by night's end – he probably should have had four – gives him six in his opening three matches. He's never met a Sherrin he didn't want to leap at, his body size is already stacking up and he's a good mover, as illustrated by his tidy finish on the run in the third term. Charlie Dixon kicked just one major for the second straight game and Todd Marshall (thumb) will be out for at least six weeks but Georgiades is ensuring neither is an issue.
What to do with Gus?
Angus Brayshaw's fall from grace in the past two seasons has been part of Melbourne's peculiar journey since a barnstorming run to the 2018 preliminary final. His podium finish in the Brownlow Medal that year was probably flattering but he played some scintillating football. Much of that success came with him thriving in partnership with ruckman Max Gawn and he was getting upwards of 20 centre-bounce opportunities late in the year. Brayshaw's now getting almost half of that, which owes in part to the need to get Christian Petracca in the middle more often. At the same time, the Demons found plenty of opportunity for inclusion Tom Sparrow – despite no midfielders going out – as Brayshaw gathered 11 disposals, after winning only nine on Sunday. What Melbourne now needs to decide is whether the 24-year-old is worth more to the club playing this role or with compensation at the trade table.
Is Oliver in hot water?
Prolific Demon Clayton Oliver had trouble hitting targets by foot on Thursday night but had the opposite problem at one stage in the second quarter. Oliver rushed in initially to spoil Port big man Peter Ladhams' kick then – realising he was too late to do that – opted to make contact and his right elbow clipped his opponent in the head. Ladhams went to ground from the glancing blow but it's unclear how forceful the contact was. That will be the decisive factor in whether Oliver is fined or suspended. The nearby umpire quickly informed Oliver he had been reported for striking and he'll now be at Match Review Officer Michael Christian's mercy.
MELBOURNE 0.2 1.3 3.5 4.8 (32)
PORT ADELAIDE 3.2 6.6 10.9 12.11 (83)
Melbourne: Weideman 2, Petracca, Melksham
Port Adelaide: Georgiades 3, Westhoff 2, Rozee 2, Dixon, Mayes, Wines, Farrell, Boak
Melbourne: May, Salem, Gawn, Hibberd
Port Adelaide: Boak, Wines, Amon, Georgiades, Mayes, Houston
Port Adelaide: Nil
Melbourne: Oliver for striking Ladhams in the second quarter
Port Adelaide: Nil