With such high hopes for 2024, St Kilda has officially been the season's letdown to date.

Sitting 3-7 and holding a better percentage than West Coast and Hawthorn, the Saints have seemingly reversed their progress from last year, sitting 14th on the AFL ladder.

What's happened?

For starters, they can't blame their lack of form on injuries as only youngsters James Van Es (ankle) and Arie Schoenmaker (concussion) occupy the list, although the latter could be available this weekend.

They can't blame it on a youth-filled club that has plagued both North Melbourne and Hawthorn at times this year, as the Saints are both 11th in experience (69.4 games) and age (24.6 years).

It must be noted, that Melbourne won a premiership in 2021 with the same age demographic on their list and fewer average games per player.

So what's happened?

Many have criticised Ross Lyon for his dour play style, which has limited scoring on both ends throughout his career.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 18: Ross Lyon, Senior Coach of the Saints looks on after the Saints were defeated by the Bulldogs during the round six AFL match between St Kilda Saints and Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, on April 18, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

In his second stint at Moorabbin and second year, Lyon's men currently rank 15th (72.2 points per game) for points scored while ranking 6th (76.7) for points against.

They are third worst in the competition for goal efficiency (20.3%), only in front of the Tigers and Hawks as a ranking of 14th for turning inside 50s to scores (43.9%) doesn't assist the club in returning to September action.

They are not an intercept team (13th - 66.3 per game) or a territory-based side (13th for inside 50s - 50.8 per game).

They are not a clearance team, ranking 13th (35.5 per game) in the competition.

So what are they?

At the moment, Lyon and the Saints have lost their DNA.

Generational forward Max King has kicked nine goals in seven outings.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 12: Max King of the Saints reacts after missing a goaduring the round 22 AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium on August 12, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Young gun Mattaes Phillipou recently was dropped from the senior side whilst reports indicated he wanted to remain in the reserves to play more midfield.

They were lauded for their strong running ability and pace through the likes of Brad Hill, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Jack Sinclair and newcomers Liam Henry, Riley Bonner, Paddy Dow and Darcy Wilson.

And despite some impressive individual form from the aforementioned aerobic specimens, there's been too much left for too few.

Former Saint legend Leigh Montagna chalked up the club's woes to their lack of "quality of the talent in their forward half".

And when you look at the contenders, everyone has them.

Sydney has Isaac Heeney (AFL leader - 91 score involvements), Chad Warner (80), Errol Gulden (75) and Justin McInerney (64).

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 04: Isaac Heeney of the Swans celebrates kicking a goal during the round eight AFL match between Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants at SCG, on May 04, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

The Western Bulldogs have Marcus Bontempelli (78), Adam Treloar (70) and Rhylee West (55).

Essendon boasts Zach Merrett (66), Jye Caldwell (57) and Ex-Saint Jade Gresham (56).

However, aside from Hill, the Saints maintain Jack Steele (53) as the club's leading score-involvement player, followed by Jack Higgins (45) and Seb Ross (43).

A notable comparison that mirrors Richmond's performance in 2024: is Shai Bolton (53), Dustin Martin (50), and Liam Baker (43).

St Kilda needs to be able to use the ball more efficiently in their front half, without blazing away or fear wasting the opportunity of having King.

Flicking the ball around with purpose will watch the number of score involvements grow, with the Saints' one-wood of running the ball from the halfback to the goal square not working consistently.

Another option is through clearance and the effectiveness of possession and how it can be turned into scores.

At times, Rowan Marshall, like many other ruckmen, grabs the football out of the ruck and tries to hoist it as far forward as possible.

That's the majority of the reason why Marshall is sitting equal-tenth in the competition for clearances (6.4 per game) and equal-eighth in inside 50s (5.6), leading the Saints in both statistics.

But this can be seen as an improvement area.

And with no disrespect to the 28-year-old, King and the forwards would prefer to have Hill, Sinclair or even Steele kicking the ball to them.

So where to now?

Melbourne WON BY 38 POINTS

Perhaps the Saints exceeded expectations in 2023 when they finished sixth and hosted an elimination final.

And perhaps their run-and-gun game from the back half is now easy to coach against.

But as good a coach as Lyon is, he must figure out a new way to score or watch season 2024 go down the drain.