So much is different about the world and the AFL in 2020, but at least one thing stayed the same as Richmond launched its season with a win over Carlton.
In an eerily empty MCG due to coronavirus restrictions, the Tigers made it 10 wins in a row against the Blues, kicking off the AFL season with a 16.9 (105) to 12.9 (81) victory.
But in David Teague’s first game as full-time coach, Carlton showed plenty of promise.
Having lost ruckman Matthew Kreuzer to a foot injury in the first quarter, the Blues trailed by a game-high 50 points in the third quarter.
But star recruit Jack Martin kicked four goals in the third term as the Blues kicked seven of eight goals to slice the margin to 15 points in the last quarter before the Tigers steadied.
Richmond should have unfurled its 2019 premiership flag in front of their adoring Tiger Army before Thursday night’s clash.
But at least locked-out fans watching at home would have been heartened to see that not much has changed with Damien Hardwick’s well-drilled unit.
— AFL (@AFL) March 19, 2020
Dustin Martin is still a superstar, the two-time Norm Smith Medal winner warming into the match to finish with 24 possessions and a goal.
Dion Prestia (25 disposals) and Trent Cotchin (19) were prominent in the game played with shortened 16-minute quarters.
Marlion Pickett, back at the scene of his stunning grand final debut, finished with 14 touches and showed flashes of brilliance.
Daniel Rioli, Shai Bolton and Jason Castagna all kicked three goals.
Jack Riewoldt booted two of his three goals in the first quarter as the Tigers leapt to a 31-point lead at the first break that they extended to 45 points at half-time.
Along with Martin, Patrick Cripps was instrumental in the Blues fightback, the co-captain gathering 31 touches.
In his first game since Round 23, 2017, Sam Docherty was outstanding with 26 disposals in his comeback from two knee reconstructions.