It's fair to say Melbourne has had Brisbane's number this season.

Not only have the reigning premiers won both contests by lengthy margins, but it's the clear conviction of footy the Demons have displayed that remains the difference.

For Brisbane, it's about how they can avoid the same pattern repeating again under the MCG lights on Friday night.

Let's track back to Round 15.

Melbourne came into the matchup on a three-game skid, whilst Brisbane was occupying top spot on the ladder by 0.2 of a per cent. The Lions began the game positively dominating territory, but couldn't capitalise on its forward 50 dominance. Their unrewarded efforts would ultimately be decisive as the premiers wrestled back control and with sheer class all over the field, punctured the Lions' tyres, cruising to a 64-point victory.

In a game that most football experts predicted would be no more than a two-goal margin between the teams, what stood out, particularly after the opening quarter, was how slow Brisbane was moving the ball.

On too many occasions, the Lions decided to play safe allowing Melbourne to clog up space and force a long kick down the line or to the forward half, where Steven May and Jake Lever had a picnic.

Steven May during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

If an inability to play the usual uptempo style of football was apparent, then the contest work was glaring.  This is an area in which Melbourne, for five seasons and counting, has been the number one team in the competition.

By the end, Melbourne won the contested ball category by a whopping plus 38 (170-132) and to make matters worse, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney, and Christian Petracca ran amok, combining for 54 contested disposals.

Adding to the woeful outcome was the outstanding nullifying job Melbourne's number one tagger James Harmes did on 2020 Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale, restricting him to only 22 disposals. Brisbane knows they can't rely on their superstar alone to power them into the preliminary final, but expect Melbourne's workhorse to get first crack at Neale again on Friday.

If the first encounter proved a steamrolling, eight weeks later the result was identically inexcusable.

With a double-chance up for grabs, Brisbane barely gave a roar. So inaudible you could hear a pin drop at the sellout Gabba crowd before too long. With Kysaiah Pickett weaving his craft to goal in the game's opening 21 seconds, it set the precedent for a Lions' horror show.

At times, Melbourne made Brisbane look second-rate, as the usual suspects in Oliver, Viney, Petracca and Angus Brayshaw ran riot in the middle. The mere conclusion came to surmise a vast gap between the sides, ultimately putting it to rest. Brisbane had a long way to go before stamping themselves as a genuine September contender.

But what are the issues Brisbane needs to address and apply on Friday night to conquer their Demons?

It's obvious - more contributors from the middle and bottom tier. Yet, this is easier said than done.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 11: Zac Bailey of the Lions smiles after his team's victory during the round 13 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the St Kilda Saints at The Gabba on June 11, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Leaving all the spadework to Lachie Neale isn't going to address the problem. Unless he decides to put on a Michael Voss-Jason Akermanis-esque finals performance. The tireless midfielder has been doing it week in and week out since arriving North in 2019. Now is the time for the other senior players like Jarryd Lyons, Hugh McCluggage, and Zac Bailey to step up to the plate on the game's biggest stage.

But another aspect that needs to click to book a preliminary final date in the Harbour City is the forward line. When on song, it's arguably the best and most exciting in the League. All their main threats Charlie Cameron, Joe Daniher, and Eric Hipwood had major outputs each booting three goals in last Thursday's epic elimination final win over Richmond.

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It's a start. But Melbourne's staunch defence, won't allow the trio the luxury to roam free all alone. Charlie Cameron in particular has been hardly sighted in the first two meetings with Michael Hibberd doing an excellent shutdown role on the electrifying forward. Now is no better time for the 2019 All-Australian to get off the leash and rev up the motorbike celebration. And if Hipwood gets going with a couple of early confidence-boosting goals, then Brisbane will be right in the hunt.

But with Daniher no longer a threat to Melbourne's back six, 'Charlie's Harley' will need a full tank of premium if a prelim' ticket is to be punched.

AFL Rd 3 - Brisbane v West Coast
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 20: Charlie Cameron of the Lions celebrates a goal the round 3 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium on June 20, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Contested ball is always a major focus on the outcome of matches and this category is more important than ever. Only three times during the home and away Season did Melbourne lose in this area, with its worst differential coming in a loss against Fremantle in Round 11 by minus 12 (140-128).

On the opposite side, Melbourne in 14 of its 16 wins during the regular season won the contested ball by an average of 19.1. A looming headache for Brisbane, who was obliterated in the first meeting by minus 38.

If there is anything to use as a template to conquer the Demon, then the Lions have to look no further than the relentless football Sydney displayed against the same opponent last Friday night. Swarming pressure, not allowing Melbourne to dictate terms, and making the most of their opportunities are all the ingredients Brisbane is capable of applying when they are on.

For the team from the Sunshine State, it's about forgetting the torrid two encounters and instead displaying the level of entertaining and dynamic football the side has been producing for five seasons. But they cannot be conservative with their ball movement or it will be three strikes and out, with their haunting Demons living on for another season.

In a matter of hours, we'll find out whether the Lions have learnt the harsh lessons and transcend the Pride of Brisbane Town into an almighty roar loud enough to extinguish Melbourne's premiership defence.