IT WILL forever be remembered as the Cairns catastrophe.
Melbourne's second loss in five days – this time to a hungrier and smarter Fremantle outfit – plunged the Demons' season into disarray on Monday night.
DEMONS v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
Despite calls from coach Simon Goodwin for his side to be a "brave footy club" at half-time, the Demons left their run too late in the 6.11 (47) to 4.9 (33) defeat at Cazalys Stadium.
Three-goal Dockers star Michael Walters' clean skills were a cut above in slippery conditions before young gun Adam Cerra delivered the knockout blow with a stunning banana goal in the final term.
It leaves Melbourne needing to win its final two games of the season just to give itself a glimmer of hope before relying on other results.
The Dockers obliterated the Demons with their possession-style game in the opening half and should've been further in front after amassing 59 more uncontested disposals.
LADDER PREDICTOR Can your team make the eight?
Just as it did in the opening term against Sydney last Thursday, Melbourne failed to capitalise on a strong breeze in the second term and booted just one goal through Sam Weideman.
Three goals from the Dockers in the third term – including two from Walters – gave the Dockers the ascendancy heading into the final term against the wind.
Goodwin called in his leaders – Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Jake Melksham, Steven May and Jake Lever – at three-quarter-time before Cerra's blinder put the Dockers four goals clear with 10 minutes to play.
TIME TO GROW UP Goodwin's plea for more 'ruthless' Demons
The Demons owned possession in the final stages and goals to Aaron vandenBerg and Bayley Fritsch bridged the gap to nine points inside four minutes.
From there it was the Dockers' defence led by Stephen Hill, Brennan Cox, and Luke Ryan who held their nerve, with first-year forward Michael Frederick kicking a goal on the final siren.
Did the Demons get it wrong at selection?
Simon Goodwin made seven changes – three forced by injury – at selection this week. But was the decision to play Braydon Preuss as a forward alongside Max Gawn ever going to work in the driving rain? Apart from a big tackle on Nathan Wilson in the second term, Preuss had no impact in attack, collecting three disposals as Tom McDonald and Mitch Brown watched on. The lack of potency forced the Demons to throw Steven May forward to chase the game in the final 15 minutes.
Sonny shows his love
Michael Walters took to Instagram last week to confess his love for coach Justin Longmuir after he appeared to mouth abuse towards the Dockers' coaches' box during the loss to Richmond. Just five days later, he delivered in spades. Walters, playing as a pure forward, grabbed for his jumper after the first goal of the game to signal his love for the club. Then two third-quarter goals – courtesy of fumbles from Max Gawn and Michael Hibberd – proved the difference. Speaking to Fox Footy post-match, Walters said it had been "a big week for myself mentally". He'll enjoy the spoils from playing the match-winner for his club.
Time to get the calculators out
After heading to the tropics with genuine hope of a return to finals, Melbourne departs with its season hanging by a thread after two consecutive losses. The Demons need to win both of their final games against Greater Western Sydney and Essendon just to have a chance of making the top eight, before relying on other results. That includes two of Collingwood, Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs dropping games where they'll enter as strong favourites and St Kilda going belly up. In a season that promised so much after round 14, the Demons' campaign appears to be headed for the scrapheap.
MELBOURNE 0.1 1.3 2.4 4.9 (33)
FREMANTLE 1.6 1.9 4.9 6.11 (47)
Melbourne: Hunt, Weideman, vandenBerg, Fritsch,
Fremantle: Walters 3, Darcy, Cerra, Frederick
Melbourne: Oliver, Petracca, Gawn, Viney, Fritsch
Fremantle: Walters, Serong, Cerra, Brayshaw, Mundy, Cox, Duman
Fremantle: Duman (ankle)