MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Kysaiah Pickett of the Demons is congratulated by Christian Petracca and Alex Neal-Bullen after kicking a goal during the round four AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 11, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Sunday afternoon was a wet and slippery affair at the ‘G, with Melbourne going in as the underdogs against last year’s grand finalists, Geelong.

Simon Goodwin’s side were three and zip, with wins over Fremantle, St. Kilda and GWS giving the Dees their best start to a season in recent memory.

Meanwhile, the Cats came in with a single loss to their name, with the previous week’s win a less-than-convincing one against the fast-finishing Hawks.

What ensued was an emphatic victory for one of the game’s most maligned sides in recent times.

Melbourne had one of their most controlling performances of the past few seasons, not letting the Cats get within more than a couple of kicks in what turned into a wet and scrappy affair.

Instead of giving up patches of play where they concede mountains of goals at a time, when Geelong kicked three goals on the trot late in the third quarter, the Dees steadied and responded accordingly through a goal from skipper Max Gawn to stem the flow.

However, the main difference from this Melbourne side and that of yesteryear was the unselfishness and the desire, no matter where you play, to put in a strong defensive effort.

Their midfield, with the likes of Petracca, Oliver and Langdon did not stop working in overdrive from the first bounce to the final siren, outworking and outsmarting a Geelong midfield which usually is the measuring stick for the competition.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of this Demon’s side is their defence. Steven May and Jake Lever have finally had time to gel together, and, with help from the likes of Tomlinson, Jetta and Salem, they are as solid as a rock.

So watertight is their backline that they have conceded the second least amount of points in the competition this season, only losing out on top spot to the Bulldogs by 20 points.

A sticking point as well amongst punters was that Melbourne had no key-forward option, and to this day many believe they still don’t.

However, this season so far has shown that they simply don’t need one.

Their two talls in attack, Tom McDonald and Luke Jackson, have only five goals between them this season – four of them to the former.

But to look at these numbers and conclude that the two aren’t contributing would be short-sighted, because it simply isn’t the case. It’s the crashing of packs and the contesting of the ball which has allowed for those around these two to thrive.

It isn’t the talls that are doing the finishing for the Dees this year – it’s the smaller figures that are making the opposition pay.

Young gun Kysaiah Pickett has been a revelation to the side, with his silky smooth skills and quick thinking around the contest proving pivotal for Melbourne in decisive moments.

The 19-year-old currently has eight majors for the year, and continues to impress and improve week-on-week.

Forward Bayley Fritsch too has delivered on a consistent basis for coach Goodwin, slotting 10 majors so far this year, whilst last year’s best-and-fairest Christian Petracca has continued his bullish behaviour, booting five goals from midfield.

What if the goals from midfield dry up though?

The scary thing is that Melbourne still have Ben Brown and Sam Weideman waiting in the wings to break into the team. It’ll be intriguing to see who makes way for one of these two, but if Brown especially recaptures his pre-2020 form, it will add yet another dimension to an attack that is already proving a handful for the opposition.

The question on everyone’s lips however, is what impact will Melbourne have on the rest of the season?

As obvious as it is, premierships aren’t won four matches into the year. The reality still remains that Simon Goodwin’s side need to display this sort of polished game style consistently if they are to be considered true blue material.

Their last foray into the finals in 2018, they did have some moments throughout the season that looked shaky.

Last year, the side looked in the box seat to secure an elimination final berth with a few weeks to go, only to proceed to stumble in their last few games and be thrown out of the eight by the Bulldogs.

Their next month contains some huge matches, including an ANZAC Day Eve blockbuster against Richmond and a home game against the resurgent Swans.

If, and it’s a huge if, they can win those two matches as well as their others against Hawthorn and the Roos, then who knows where the limit is for the Demons.

But it is clear from just the past few weeks, there is something very un-Melbourne-like about Melbourne in 2021.