Sir Doug Nicholls Round threw up some huge curved-balls to the competition, with so many huge moments that have served only to further mold the ladder into what might resemble it's final form.
With the footy world nine games closer to seeing where each team will finish come Round 23, let us revisit our power rankings this week and see the order heading into the bye rounds.
1. Melbourne (+1)
If there were any doubts over Melbourne following previous round's gut-wrenching loss by the narrowest of margins, then those doubts were quickly erased on Friday night.
Simon Goodwin's side were absolutely ruthless in their attack on fellow flag favourites Western Bulldogs, and convincingly outplayed them at an empty Marvel Stadium to move a game clear at the top of the table.
Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca continued their incredible dominance in the middle of the park, combining for 57 disposals between them, whilst Bayley Fritsch and Tom McDonald made it look easy down forward as they booted three majors each.
The Melbourne rearguard was staunch, with Steven May and Jake Lever once again putting on stellar displays to steer their side to victory.
Clarry is in Brownlow form 💯 pic.twitter.com/rPfryt0U8i
— 7AFL (@7AFL) May 28, 2021
You would hate to don the early crow - especially when we're not even halfway through the season - but it is hard to see anyone taking top spot off the Dees for the rest of the year with the way they're playing week-in week-out.
Their game plan seems watertight and looks like it'll do more than float in finals. Next week they take on the Lions in another huge clash, and if they come out of this with the four points it'll be another huge statement victory for the Dees.
2. Brisbane (+1)
The Lions kept their stunning streak going on Saturday as they romped to another big win, this time dispatching of the previously-resurgent GWS. Hard-nut Mitch Robinson had a career-best haul in front of goal, booting four majors to guide his side to a ten goal victory.
Dayne Zorko could not be kept away from the footy all afternoon, racking up 35 disposals and two majors, whilst Rhys 'The Barometer' Mathieson and Marcus Adams again impressed for Chris Fagan's side.
A career high 4 goals for Mitch Robbo 😱
— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) May 29, 2021
It just seems like the early-season doubts of Brisbane's ability and whether or not they could stack up this year are a distant, distant memory.
They are playing some ruthless football at the minute, and the fact they still have Brownlow Medalist Lachie Neale waiting in the wings to come back is a scary prospect for the rest of the competition.
Next week is their biggest game of the year to date against the Dees in Darwin. Should they plow on and play their best, then it'll be almost impossible to predict a winner in this encounter.
In even better news, the aforementioned Neale is worded to potentially be in the frame for a return on Friday night, and would be a massive inclusion should it come to fruition.
3. Western Bulldogs (-2)
The Dogs were, for the second time this season, on the receiving end of a loss. This time, it came against direct premiership rivals on, what has become in recent times, the Doggies' happy-hunting ground. They were at times opened up far too easy, and they gifted Melbourne possession back on many an occasion.
Despite his side having a rough evening overall, Jack Macrae once again managed to rack up incredible numbers with 36 disposals and six clearances. The two Baileys in Dale and Smith also had productive nights as they racked up 30 and 27 disposals respectively.
The fact of the matter is for all of Luke Beveridge's great progress this year, there still are some question marks over his side - specifically his defence. The main thing for his side is now to regroup and go again, with a clash against the Dockers in Perth likely spelling a victory to get them back on the winners list again.
4. Geelong (-)
The Cats served up a sketchy performance against the lowly Pies, with some claiming this encounter the worst so far this year. In a dogged affair at an empty MCG, Geelong withstood a late surge from Collingwood to claim a ten-point win.
Tom Hawkins was superb down forward, kicking three goals and clocking up 21 disposals, whilst Brandan Parfitt and Zach Tuohy also shone for the Cats and got plenty of the football.
The less said about last week's game the better, with Cats fans happy to bank the four points and move on. The Cats have a week off to recoup and gear up for the rest of the year, but should lockdown be extended in Victoria, could face an early trip to Adelaide for their crunch match against the Power.
5. Port Adelaide (-)
Ken Hinkley's side were tested at points throughout their clash with the Dockers on Sunday afternoon, but kept them at arms length to run out 46 point winners at home. The Power forwards in the form of Charlie Dixon and Sam Powell-Pepper were instrumental, kicking three majors apiece, whilst their industrious midfielders in Ollie Wines and Travis Boak were huge, with both chipping in with 30+ disposals.
— AFL (@AFL) May 30, 2021
Port Adelaide were challenged against the Pies in the round before, and were lucky to come away with the win in that encounter. With some bemusing losses this year already, there are still question marks over whether or not they will be there come the last Saturday of the year, let alone a preliminary final.
The good thing is that they have a week off next week before their clash against the Cats. Come away with a win and suddenly Port could be back in the frame for premiership contention.
6. Richmond (+1)
The Tigers were tested early against the Crows, who were coming off an emphatic narrow win against the Dees the week before. However it was the tale of the forwards, with superstar Jack Riewoldt kicking five goals and taking what many are saying could be mark of the year, rivalling the effort of teammate Shai Bolton only a few weeks back.
Second-gamer Callum Coleman-Jones had a stellar outing, kicking four goals on his return to the side and giving coach Damien Hardwick a selection headache.
Going back with the flight, Jack Riewoldt took a mark for the ages and a serious @FOURNTWENTY Mark of the Year contender 🙌
(Psst... Tiger fans please read closely 👇)
— AFL (@AFL) May 31, 2021
Following their disappointing loss to the Lions the week before, a win on the road at a neutral ground should reignite the Tigers confidence. With the situation in Victoria not looking overly promising, the side is staring down the barrel of an extended period of time on the road.
However as we saw in 2020, Richmond love nothing more than having their backs to the wall when it gets to crunch time. This week, the Tigers go to Perth to tackle the hot Bombers, and will have to be at their best to survive an upset.
7. Sydney (+1)
The Swans were tested for three quarters of their Sunday afternoon clash with the Blues in Sydney, with David Teague's side sticking with them until the final term.
However, the Swans finally put their foot on the gas and stormed away from their opposition in the last, running out 22 point winners. It was the Sydney attack that was the difference, with Lance Franklin, Tom Papley and Isaac Heeney all notching three goals each, whilst their on-ballers in Callum Mills and Josh Kennedy had a day-out as well, with the latter racking up two goals to go with his 19 disposals.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) May 30, 2021
The heartbreak of their defeat at the hands of the Dockers last Saturday night would have been fresh in the back of their minds going into the last quarter this week, and they did well to break free of the Blues.
With the location of their Round 12 encounter with the Saints up in the air for now whilst Victoria figures out their COVID-conundrum, there is very much a possibility that it will be moved to the harbour city, meaning the Swans will not have to travel and will be in prime state to make it eight and four.
8. GWS (-2)
The Giants would have been in good spirits coming off their very solid win against the Eagles in Round 10, but that confidence was ground into the turf of the Gabba on Saturday as they were demolished by the Lions.
Many were thinking that the Giants could snag a spot in the eight should things go their way, but their display on the weekend would have cast question marks over their legitimacy.
Leon Cameron's midfield brigade in the form of Taranto, Ward, Whitfield and Hopper held themselves in good stead, all racking up 30+ touches, but it was a very tough day at the office regardless considering the final margin.
Thankfully for GWS, next week for them is a bye, giving them time to dissect the heavy defeat and learn from what happened. The following week too spells good news for them as they face league whipping-boys North Melbourne at what could be a neutral venue depending on circumstances.
9. Essendon (+1)
In what some have described as one of the great Essendon wins of the last decade, Ben Rutten's side somehow stormed back from 29-points down at one stage to run over the top of the flat Eagles.
Easily the result of the round, Bombers fans back home would have been more than rapt with the performance of the side, with a great mix of experience and youth showcasing what this team is capable of.
Darcy Parish showed why he is arguably now the best player at the club, with an inspired performance of 36 touches and 11 clearances, whilst his partner in crime Zach Merrett was too incredible with 37 touches. Jake Stringer, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Cale Hooker combining for seven goals between them.
Monday Perk up ☕️ pic.twitter.com/8f7jOxpqOe
— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) May 31, 2021
With this win, there is now confirmation at The Hanger that they are pulling in the right direction under Rutten. We know that they have some superb youngsters coming through their team, and with each passing game it seems they are getting better and better.
Next week is a mammoth test for the side, with a Dreamtime game in Perth on the schedule against the Tigers. Should they repeat last week and upset the Tigers, could maybe the 'F-word' be used?
10. West Coast (-1)
There isn't a whole lot to be cheery about at the Eagles at the moment, with their Saturday night shock loss against the Bombers casting their 2021 campaign into doubt. Their second half effort was poor, and looked frazzled - not for the first time this year - in the face of adversity from the opposition.
To make matters even worse, stars Tim Kelly and Oscar Allen both went down with injuries, with the former facing weeks on the sidelines. Dom Sheed was one of the few shining lights for the Eagles, chalking up a colossal 43 disposals, whilst Andrew Gaff and Josh J. Kennedy were also good for West Coast.
There is no question that the Eagles are miles off it this year, with many saying that it is the beginning of the end for Adam Simpson's side and their ageing stars. Whilst they're still in the eight and might still make it come season's end, chances are they will just be making up the numbers as the club begins to perhaps look to the future.
11. Adelaide (-)
The Crows did little to discredit themselves against the reigning premiers as they came off last weeks triumphant win against the Demons.
Despite coming off second best as predicted, Matthew Nicks' side stuck it to the Tigers for large portions of the game as they roared out of the blocks and established a nice margin at quarter time as well as mounting a fast but brief comeback in the last term.
Taylor Walker was instrumental down forward, as was Darcy Fogarty with the two combining for seven goals, whilst Ben Keays and Rory Sloane were class in midfield and put in great shifts for Adelaide.
— AFL (@AFL) May 30, 2021
Despite finding themselves in 15th on the ladder, there is plenty to be optimistic about at Adelaide, with the side showing against the Tigers and more notably the week before that they can stick it to the top brass of the competition. In the first of the bye rounds, Adelaide travel back home to take on the Pies in a huge contest and would be hoping to take the four points in that clash.
12. Carlton (-)
David Teague's men were sharp for the first three quarters of Sunday's clash with the Swans at the SCG, but just couldn't stick with them late on. In a see-sawing encounter, Carlton found themselves just three points down going into the last quarter and would have felt the game was there to be won.
The midfield duo of Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh starred for the Blues, with the former booting three goals in an inspiring display as captain. Harry McKay extended his lead in the Coleman race with three goals, but could have had a few more with five behinds as well.
— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) May 30, 2021
Although a defeat was disappointing for the Blues, they would have gained confidence through their performance for three quarters.
The bottom line is however that they need to start transforming these honourable losses into wins or face falling back into mediocrity - something many have been saying they've already done in 2021.
With this week, they have the opportunity to get the wood over a big team on the decline in West Coast. Although it won't be at the 'G, a win here would do wonders for Carlton confidence and lifting the spirits of their beleaguered Victorian fans.
14. Fremantle (-1)
Unfortunately for Justin Longmuir's side, they could not repeat last week's shock win over the Swans as they went down to the Power to the tune of eight goals. They were kept at arms length for most of the match, rarely getting closer than five goals within Port Adelaide, but there were some good performers despite the hefty final margin.
Andrew Brayshaw was stellar once again for his side, gathering 28 touches, whilst skipper Nat Fyfe and veteran David Mundy were pivotal, combining for three goals and 45 touches between them.
— AFL (@AFL) May 30, 2021
This week doesn't get any easier for Fremantle as they welcome the Dogs to Perth for a Sunday afternoon clash.
Coming off a loss against their rivals, the Bulldogs will be hungry to get a win to get their season on track, and the Dockers will do well to stick with them for four quarters.
15. St. Kilda (-)
The Saints had a solid win against the bottom-placed North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon at an empty Marvel Stadium.
Despite being as much as 40-points to the good, the final score-line doesn't exactly reflect the gulf in class between the two sides. Luke Dunstan put up a best-on-ground performance in his return to the side with 26 disposals and 13 tackles, whilst Brad Crouch, Mason Wood and Jack Steele did a superb job for the home side.
Wood things come in threes 👌
Mason Wood made it count against his old side. pic.twitter.com/98nxB6acfx
— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) May 31, 2021
This win keeps the Saints' faint finals hopes alive as they remarkably still sit one win behind the Tigers even after all the shellacking's that they've endured.
However, big questions still remain over Brett Ratten's side, and he will be hoping to begin quashing them next week as they goes up against the Swans at a location still to be determined.
16. Collingwood (-)
The Pies had a pretty torrid three quarters against premiership hopefuls Geelong, as they went down by only ten points at the MCG on Saturday. Nathan Buckley's side were kept goalless in the first half and ended the game with a score of 6.15 - an absolutely shocking display in front of the sticks.
Chris Mayne was the Pies' best player for the day, whilst Jack Crisp and Jordan De Goey too had decent days out despite the result.
To make matters even worse for the Pies, star ruckman Brodie Grundy and midfield powerhouse Taylor Adams will both miss weeks with shoulder and leg injuries respectively.
Along with this, the side will most likely be forced to relocate to an interstate hub as the COVID crisis engulfs Victoria again, with a trip to Adelaide on the cards next round where they face the Crows.
17. Hawthorn (-)
Another week, another painful display from the Hawks. This week, they travelled to Sydney following Darwin rejecting the chance to hold the match due to the situation in Victoria, however it did not make a difference as they never really looked like threatening the Suns.
Liam Shiels was their best player, racking up 27 touches, six tackles and eight clearances whilst Mitch Lewis, Ben McEvoy and Dylan Moore chipped in with two goals each.
Things just aren't exactly rosy at Glenferrie Oval currently, with the Hawks anything but in vogue at the minute.
They will be looking towards the Mid-Season Draft to see if they can muster up some more bright stars for the future, but the best they can do this season is try notch up some wins and earn some respect amongst the league. This week they have the bye, and will be looking forward to some rest.
18. North Melbourne (-)
It was another tough week for North as they went down to the Saints at Marvel Stadium. A late surge from them wasn't enough to shock the Saints into a collapse, and the final margin probably flattered them all things considering.
Aaron Hall and Jy Simpkin were great in midfield for them, whilst Jack Ziebell continued to be a revelation to the defence with 23 touches and two goals.
The Roos have a week off, and will need it is as the week after they face a tough test as they host the Giants, with the location of the match still to be decided.