WEST Coast's coach Michael Prior has questioned why his team was scheduled to play reigning premier Narrm this year, with a 70-point loss on Sunday exposing a gulf in class between the two sides.
The Eagles were held scoreless in the second half at Mineral Resources Park and kicked just two goals while the Demons dominated inside 50s (52-9) and piled on seven unanswered goals to hand the home team its fourth-heaviest defeat in five seasons.
EAGLES v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
In a competition that sees teams play just 10 of 17 opponents during the home-and-away season, Prior said it was frustrating that the League would pit his team - who finished third last in Season 7 with a 2-8 record - against the reigning premiers.
"That's a team that won the Grand Final last year against a team that finished last (third last)," Prior volunteered in the first answer of his post-match press conference on Sunday. "With 18 teams in the comp and only 10 games, how we play that team is beyond me.
"That's what you get when you get fixturing like that.
"It's frustrating ... the side that won it is playing the side that came last. I just don't understand that part of it and we need to look at it."
The Demons were the first Season 7 finalists that the Eagles have played so far this year, having faced Walyalup, Gold Coast, Carlton, Sydney, Yartapuulti and Greater Western Sydney in the opening six rounds, winning only the game against the Power. They will play two more Season 7 finalists in the final three rounds of the season; top-of-the-table Adelaide and the winless Western Bulldogs.
The Eagles won two games last season to finish third last on the ladder, ahead of the Power and the Swans, who won one game between them. Prior's side finished last in Season 6 with just one win from 10 games before the competition expanded for Season 7.
The Power are also scheduled to play three Season 7 finalists this year, while Sydney has been scheduled to play just one. Neither the Power or Swans will play the Demons, although both have already played Brisbane, who lost the Grand Final to the Dees last season.
The Eagles have avoided games against the Lions as well as Richmond, Geelong and Collingwood, who all finished in the top six in Season 7.
Asked how far away his team is from a trendsetter like Narrm, Prior said: "We've got a lot of work to do. We're miles away from where we want to be. That's clear".
The Eagles were able to stay in Sunday's match through the first half by kicking two goals from their five entries and applying heavy defensive pressure in the 32-degree conditions, with their desperate backline holding up admirably.
The harder running Demons put their foot to the floor after the main break, however, and produced a dominant second half, with the Eagles going into attack only once in the final term.
Demons coach Mick Stinear said his team had been keen to rebound from its first loss of the season to Adelaide last week, with the reigning premiers in good shape ahead of a top-four clash against North Melbourne next Saturday.
"Adelaide handed us our first loss last week and probably took away a few of our strengths. We really didn't play the way we wanted to play for four quarters," he said.
"We had the opportunity during the week to take the lessons from that game and coming here today we really wanted to enjoy playing a team.
"In the second half, the group did really well to open up the ground and I felt they were first to the ball all day and our ball-movement really started to challenge them."