THE SYDNEY Swans have moved into the top eight for the first time this season after a thumping 79-point win over the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night.
Without glamour forward Lance Franklin (knee), the Swans had no problems dismissing the struggling Lions, winning 18.15 (123) to 6.8 (44).
The visitors were challenged early in the second quarter, but used a four-goal burst in the lead-up to half-time to establish a match-winning lead.
They then piled on 10 goals to three in the second half to boost their percentage and move to a 4-3 record ahead of Friday night's blockbuster against Hawthorn at ANZ Stadium.
The only sour note for the Swans was a hamstring injury to Mike Pyke during the second quarter, but it was mainly positives for John Longmire's men.
With Franklin absent, dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes roamed free in the forward line in his first full game in 10 months.
The 34-year-old kicked two early goals and finished with three for the match in an encouraging return to form.
"He (Goodes) was on fire the first couple of minutes," Longmire said.
"We'd forgotten what he was like. It was good to see him … good to get some decent game time into him.
"The longer the game went, the harder we were running and finished the game off strongly.
"All of our key indicators, our tackles, our contested ball work, we kept persisting.
"We had 33 shots at goal and kept the opposition to six goals, which is not too bad."
The midfield ran riot and thoroughly outplayed the Lions for most of the four quarters.
Jarrad McVeigh had 14 first-quarter disposals and finished with 35 for the match to be the best player on the ground.
Josh Kennedy (34) was his usual industrious self, Dan Hannebery (31) showed glimpses of his best, while Kieren Jack finished with 27 touches and two goals in a largely forward role.
For the Lions, it was a tame follow-up to their first win of the season against St Kilda in Wellington eight days ago.
Coach Justin Leppitsch said there was no quick fix for his team, who remain at the bottom of the table with a 1-6 record.
"It's a patient game for an impatient man," Leppitsch said.
"But you can't get 100 games into players without them playing 99.
"And to do that, you've got a couple of ways, you can recruit them in, or you can build them. They're the couple of options you've got. As a footy club, we're going to build it.
"And yeah, we'll top up around the sides and get experience in along the journey, no doubt, but the core of your list has to come from 17, 18-year-olds that drive your club."
Perhaps even more disturbing was the harsh glimpse into life after Jonathan Brown, following the champion forward's late withdrawal with general soreness.
In a move believed to help get the ageing Brown through the season unscathed, it left Daniel Merrett and Luke McGuane to carry the load.
With little quality supply, and already missing lynchpins Daniel Rich (knee), Matthew Leuenberger (knee) and Pearce Hanley (back), the forwards struggled.
Vice-captain Tom Rockliff (30 disposals and 10 tackles) tried his heart out despite being physically ill in the first quarter, while youngsters James Aish, Marco Paparone and Sam Mayes all had a dip.