Melbourne may have entered its Gather Round clash against Essendon on an offensive tear but after falling to Brad Scott's Bombers by 27 points in tough conditions, Dees head coach Simon Goodwin conceded that there was still work to be done to fix his offensive mix.
With an average of more than 114 points on the board over the opening month - a mean boosted to 130 over the past fortnight following successive thrashings of the Swans and Eagles in Rounds 3 and 4 - the Demons had every right to be feeling dangerous as they made their way onto Adelaide Oval.
In a testament to the Bombers' early blitz, the underdog's 64 first-half points were the most conceded by the Redlegs since their horror preliminary final hammering in 2018.
While the ilk of Bayley Fritsch, Kysaiah Pickett and late inclusion Jake Melksham ending the humbling afternoon with multiple majors, the same able support from their tall teammates was muted with Tom McDonald and Jacob Van Rooyen combining for a sole goal in Ben Brown's absence.
Forced to go to work without the sharpshooting ex-Roo after he was excluded from Goodwin's lineup at the eleventh hour, Melbourne rolled out its fifth different forward unit in as many weeks, one that failed to find the upper hand against Scott's rising back-eight.
After entering its season opener without Fritsch, Melbourne has been forced to do battle without the services of McDonald (omission), Pickett (suspension), Brown and Max Gawn (injuries) throughout the first month and change.
And while a red-eye flight back from Perth ahead of a short turnaround in Adelaide can be used as a crutch for Saturday's uncharacteristic performance, the lack of height around Van Rooyen proved costly as the clouds opened.
Speaking post-game, Goodwin told Zero Hanger that while his side's disappointing performance was now in the books, he would continue to take time in his search for the best forward mix.
“We're still going to continue to look; continue to find some consistency in the way we play down there,” he stated.
The premiership coach also pressed that the imminent return of Gawn would add another avenue to impacting the scoreboard.
“Obviously getting the rucks (back will add) another different look,” Goodwin added.
“We'll continue to look and find out what our best mix is. You don't need to make decisions straight away, so we'll have a look.”
Both Brown (back) and Gawn (knee) are expected to make their respective returns to action in the short term, with the latter set to ease the pressure on recent import Brodie Grundy who struggled to quell Essendon's dual ruck threat of Sam Draper and Andrew Phillips.
Goodwin's legion will earn an added rest ahead of their Round 6 fixture against Richmond on ANZAC Day Eve on Monday, April 24 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.