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Nine things we learned from round one

The 10: round one Ablett magic, a few hangers, Bomber emotion and more
Mitch Clark walks from the ground after Melbourne's capitulation to Port Adelaide on Sunday - ${keywords}
Mitch Clark walks from the ground after Melbourne's capitulation to Port Adelaide on Sunday
1) The Bulldogs haven't read the script
So many pundits predicted that Brendan McCartney's team would be a joke this year that by the time the season started it was an accepted fact. Even when the Bulldogs kicked the first three goals in their clash with the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on Saturday it was considered nothing more than a brief flurry from a young side that was about to be thrashed. But the scriptwriters forgot to tell the Dogs that they were meant to be playing the role of kids against men. In fact, they tore up the script so comprehensively that by the final siren they were 68 points up. – Adam McNicol

2) Gazza is still the best in the business
There are a few players nipping at his heels, but Gary Ablett showed again on Saturday night he's still the number one player in the competition. Jobe Watson, Scott Pendlebury and Trent Cotchin all put in five-star first round displays, but none seized the day quite like Gazza. With his Suns trailing at three-quarter time and tired players slipping and fumbling, the skipper kept his feet and found another gear. His final term was a masterclass: 13 disposals (eight contested) and three goals. – Michael Whiting

3) Too much is left for too few at Melbourne
Coach Mark Neeld admitted after Sunday's game 'We've got nowhere to hide' - and he was right. Uncompetitive in a 79-point drubbing, the Demons have thrown themselves under the microscope. Two of the club's best three players against Port were debutants, in Jack Viney and Matt Jones, with co-captain Jack Grimes rounding out the trio. Mitch Clark fought gallantly before rolling his ankle, and there were glimpses from others, but Melbourne fans have every right to be frustrated with the general lack of endeavour when there was everything to play for. As Grimes said: 'There's a lot of guys that probably have to have a good hard look at themselves.' – Jacqui Reed

4) Tyrone Vickery is pivotal for Richmond
Richmond's forward line has evolved to the point where Jack Riewoldt can play "one of the best games he's played in 12 months" and contribute to a win without kicking a goal. Riewoldt pushed high up the ground in Thursday night's thrilling win, dragging Michael Jamison with him and opening the forward line for Ty Vickery, Luke McGuane and Jake King, who shared in seven of the team's 14 goals. The biggest benefactor of Riewoldt's selfless game was Vickery, who kicked three goals and took nine marks. The 22-year-old, who also assisted Ivan Maric in the ruck, could be the most important player in the Tigers' 2013 structure. – Nathan Schmook

5) Collingwood is backing performances, not names
Clubs who win premierships these days have almost 30 players capable of filling a role at senior level. At Collingwood, that translates to a policy of only playing players who are 100 percent fit. Dayne Beams and Heath Shaw were withdrawn late before Sunday's game against North Melbourne, and the Pies placed their faith in two first-gamers: Josh Thomas and Jack Frost. It paid off. Very few clubs, of course, can afford such luxury but Collingwood has recruited to add depth and is going to back its fit players to do the job. – Peter Ryan

6) Beware the Dockers' talls
Fremantle's tall midfielders are going to be a significant obstacle this season, judging by the centre-square stranglehold they held over their West Coast opponents in round one. David Mundy (192cm), Michael Barlow (191cm), Ryan Crowley (190cm) and Nat Fyfe (190cm) were all influential in Fremantle's 28-point win, with Mundy and Barlow sharing the Ross Glendinning Medal as best afield at Patersons Stadium. Height and strength are viewed by the club as strengths in the midfield, and it is an asset that is complemented by the outside pace of Stephen Hill and Danyle Pearce. – Nathan Schmook

7) The Bombers are deadly when flying
Essendon's calamitous finish to 2012 clouded memories of its blistering 9-1 start to that season. Last week's stirring win on Adelaide's home soil was a reminder that, when fit, the Bombers remain a serious force. Led by Brownlow Medallist Jobe Watson, the midfield crushed the Crows, winning the clearances 44-33. The backline's pressure was intense and the forwards fired; Ben Howlett booting four goals and Alwyn Davey three. The Bombers' 13 individual goal kickers was further evidence that, ASADA-willing, 2013 could yet be a salvageable year. – Harry Thring

8) Tom Scully might just prove the doubters wrong
There was plenty of noise coming out of western Sydney during the pre-season about the evolution and maturity of Tom Scully. The man with the enormous contract and the unshakable burden of being a No.1 draft pick failed to really fire in his first year as a Giant and was overlooked when it came to the club's inaugural captains. His leadership had improved, the club said, naming Scully vice-captain for season two, but he needed to prove it on the field. Eighteen possessions, five tackles and four inside 50s against the Swans was a decent stat line, but told only half the story. He threw himself about, he helped dictate the midfield and he stood out alongside Callan Ward as a leader in the engine room. Scully has work to do to win over all the critics, but there was an unmistakable step up in round one. Now he just needs to do it every week. – James Dampney

9. Geelong's dominance over Hawthorn is getting ridiculous
The Hawks blitzed the Cats in the opening half on Easter Monday, cruising to a 30-point lead by the 24-minute mark of the second quarter. The brown and gold army was celebrating at that point, and its members had every right to. It was the largest margin Hawthorn had led Geelong by since it last beat the Cats in the 2008 Grand Final. But no margin seems big enough these days to insulate the Hawks from a catastrophe when they play Geelong. And true to form the Kennett curse struck yet again, with Hawthorn slumping to a 10th consecutive loss against the men from Simonds Stadium. Maybe the only way the Hawks will beat the Cats again is if they meet in another Grand Final. 
 - Adam McNicol

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs