Melbourne’s slumping AFL season hit a new low as it faltered badly on the big stage against Collingwood.
Their annual Queen’s Birthday blockbuster has often thrown up upset results, but the Magpies stormed to a regulation 15.8 (98) to 7.15 (57) win on Monday and they are now outright second on the ladder.
The Demons are mired in third-last spot with only three wins.
Melbourne defenders Steven May and Jake Lever were solid in their returns from injury and Max Gawn split the points in his much-anticipated ruck duel with Brodie Grundy.
But apart from a brief rally in the last quarter, the Demons were found wanting again as the Magpies small forwards cut loose to deadly effect.
Collingwood goalsneaks Jordan De Goey, Will Hoskin-Elliott and Jaidyn Stephenson kicked three goals apiece.
As its inaccuracy shows, Melbourne once again was dysfunctional in attack.
Gawn’s straightforward set shot after the final siren went wide and that summed up the Demons’ scoring woes.
Pre-game, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin had heralded the example of Neale Daniher, who spoke about seizing opportunities in adversity.
Goodwin had also stressed that the Demons have so much to play for in the second half of the season.
But after five weeks of some improvement, Monday showed how far last year’s preliminary finalists are off the pace.
As Collingwood took outright second spot on the ladder, Greater Western Sydney and reigning premiers West Coast failed to bridge the gap to top side Geelong.
The Giants and Eagles are now a game behind the Pies and three games adrift of the Cats, who opened Round 12 on Friday night by tearing apart Richmond.
Adelaide enjoyed its best win of the season, beating the Giants by 21 points, while the Eagles were swamped in the last quarter by Sydney at the SCG.
It was a bad weekend all round for West Coast – star midfielder Elliot Yeo was a late withdrawal with a calf injury, while Nathan Vardy and Willie Rioli face one-game bans for rough conduct.