COLLINGWOOD has seen off outgoing coach Nathan Buckley in the best way possible, defeating premiership favourites Melbourne by 17 points.
The Pies showed the dash and dare that has been missing on so many occasions this year in the 9.9 (63) to 11.14 (80) win at the SCG against a disappointing Dees side.
After leading by 16 at the main break, Collingwood carried a five-point lead into the final quarter (oddly enough, the number Buckley wore at the Pies) before kicking the first two goals.
Ed Langdon's major with 3.32 left on the clock put a cat among the pigeons, but Brayden Maynard settled the nerves with a gutsy pack mark in defence in the final minute.
While at times the Demons looked like the high-scoring flag favourites, they struggled to string together any consistent fluency in attack, and appeared flat after two powerful wins over the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane.
By contrast, the Pies managed to balance some freewheeling footy on the wing with short, pin-point passes inside 50, making life difficult for Melbourne's powerful intercept defenders Steven May and Jake Lever.
Brody Mihocek shook off his early yips to kick two goals in three minutes, before a goalsquare snap from Luke Jackson broke the run of four Pie majors.
It appeared as if Collingwood was going to continue on its run after the main break, but Max Gawn's goal cut the margin to 11 points after Jayden Hunt kickstarted some quick movement through the middle of the ground.
The Dees managed to regain the lead halfway through the third term, but only held it for three minutes, Darcy Cameron kicking his third before the game was on tenterhooks for the rest of the quarter.
James Harmes was swung onto Jordan De Goey after the main break, but wasn't able to curtail the powerful midfielder, while Maynard and Neale Daniher Trophy winner Scott Pendlebury were outstanding.
Christian Petracca and Christian Salem found plenty of the footy, while Harmes and James Jordon ran hard all game.
Max Gawn v Brodie Grundy, the battle of the premier ruckmen, has been a staple of Queen's Birthday clashes in years gone by. With Grundy sidelined due to a neck injury, 20-year-old Max Lynch took his opportunity with both hands. In just his third game at AFL level, Lynch held his body position well, matching the four-time All Australian and recording 23 hitouts to Gawn's 20.
Both teams looked sluggish at times throughout the game, in part due to some well-structured defences, but ascendancy went to whichever side managed to break through and find space. Jayden Hunt, Kozzie Pickett and Christian Salem were the key architects for the Dees, while Pies Brayden Maynard, John Noble and Jack Crisp moved the ball with purpose.
The key to opening Melbourne's defence?
Darcy Cameron kicked a career-high four goals playing on Steven May, but it was the way the ball was delivered to him that would have opposition teams sitting up and taking notice. Collingwood had a clear plan to avoid long and high kicks inside 50, instead looking for short options or scything kicks into attack. The Pies' pressure inside 50 was immense once the ball hit the deck, laying 16 tackles.
MELBOURNE 2.2 4.4 8.6 9.9 (63)
COLLINGWOOD 1.4 6.8 8.11 11.14 (80)
Melbourne: Jackson 2, Neal-Bullen, Harmes, Oliver, Gawn, Petracca, Fritsch, Langdon
Collingwood: Cameron 4, Mihocek 3, Hoskin-Elliott, McCreery, Pendlebury, Sidebottom
Melbourne: Salem, Petracca, Harmes, Oliver, Jordon
Collingwood: De Goey, Maynard, Pendlebury, Crisp, Cameron
Collingwood: Murphy (corked leg)
Melbourne: Kade Chandler (unused)
Collingwood: Jay Rantall (replaced Nathan Murphy)
Crowd: TBC at the SCG