Melbourne's domineering ruck partnership of Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy has suffered its first major blow, as Gawn is slated to spend an extended stint on the sidelines after falling victim to a feared-serious knee injury against Brisbane on Friday night.

Considering the Dees' investment in Grundy during last year's trade period, Melbourne is likely counting on the ex-Magpie to be able to step back into a full-time rucking role in Gawn's absence, in doing so helping to keep the Demons' premiership window well and truly open in the meantime.

Despite coach Simon Goodwin's post-game comment on Friday that the club "need to get further scans and assess [those]", the league-wide expectation is that Gawn will be absent from play for at least the medium term while he recovers.

After a Round 1 thrashing of the Bulldogs and a crushing defeat at the hands of the Lions on Friday, the Dees' next month of football shapes as a crucial one as they sit at an even 1-1 in 2023.

Melbourne's next four games come against teams that, arguably, do not possess dominant ruck forces: Sydney, West Coast, Essendon, and Richmond.

The Swans usually boast serviceable veteran Tom Hickey, however, he missed his side's Round 1 triumph over Gold Coast, as ex-Power ruck-forward Peter Ladhams and primary key position forward Hayden McLean were thrust into key rucking duties against dominant Sun Jarrod Witts.

The results were modest for Sydney, as Ladhams and McLean managed just 22 hit-outs between them, compared to Witts' whopping 51.

Next up? The Eagles' inexperienced pairing of Bailey Williams and Callum Jamieson. Theoretically, Grundy should dominate a matchup such as this without the need for much support, despite the fact he will receive chop-outs from the likes of Tom McDonald or Adam Tomlinson.

The final two games of this block may prove to be the most trying for Melbourne and Grundy. Essendon's Sam Draper broke out last season and has had a positive start to this year, kicking two goals while rucking against Hawthorn's Ned Reeves and Lloyd Meek in Round 1, while Andrew Phillips plays in support, which could cause Grundy a few problems.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - APRIL 29: Toby Nankervis of the Tigers and Brodie Grundy of the Magpies compete for the ball during the 2018 AFL round six match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 29, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Richmond's Toby Nankervis awaits the 28-year-old the following week. 'Nank' has had Grundy's number in a few of their recent battles, as the yellow and black soldier is simply a difficult ruckman to get over the top of.

While games against the Bombers and Tigers could present as stumbling blocks for Grundy, the long-haired game-wrecker is likely to dictate terms against the Swans and Eagles and, as a general rule, will succeed to some extent in most of the ruck matchups he is tasked with.

Melbourne's next month of football will be a defining block of contests as it pertains to its premiership credibility. And while the true severity of Gawn's concerning ailment is not yet known, it looks as if Grundy will be called on to shoulder most of the Demons' ruck load for an extended period.

However, the Dees should be in capable tapping hands, even without their captain.