MELBOURNE is the real deal.
Seven days after they constricted the Western Bulldogs at an empty Marvel Stadium, the Demons have overpowered Brisbane with an irresistible second half to frank themselves as premiership favourites.
The Lions looked winners at half-time, leading by 20 points, but superstar Christian Petracca had other ideas, putting Melbourne on his back to carry it to a 14.13 (97) to 11.9 (75) victory.
They now boast an 11-1 record ahead of the rescheduled Queen's Birthday match against Collingwood at the SCG in 10 days' time.
Petracca was magnificent, racking up 26 disposals, including 16 contested, and kicking two goals, lifting his team when they needed it most.
He had plenty of mates though as Melbourne kicked nine of the game's final 12 goals to overwhelm Chris Fagan's team.
DEMONS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
Clayton Oliver (26) came to life after the main break, as did the forward duo of Kysaiah Pickett and Tom McDonald, who had been starved of opportunities in the first half.
The duo kicked three goals apiece to finish off the fine work done upfield.
Melbourne had the game completely under control in the second half, dominating at stoppages, generating run from most parts of the ground and slowing the Lions' ball movement.
Brisbane played an almost flawless first half, but looked to tire badly late in the game.
Max Gawn played rover to give his team an early lead with a superbly snapped left-foot goal, before the Lions flexed their muscles, kicking the next three to take control.
Zac Bailey miraculously soccered one from mid-air to kick one of his four goals, while Eric Hipwood, Joe Daniher and Lincoln McCarthy were all dangerous aerial threats.
The Lions owned the footy with 43 more disposals leading to 14 more inside 50s and could have led by more if two of Hipwood's long-range set shots didn't thump into the woodwork.
Oscar McInerney also proved dangerous from inside 50 stoppages, once hitting into the path of Charlie Cameron for a goal, and another time tapping to the advantage of Dayne Zorko who found Bailey for a neat finish.
Melbourne's engine room gets on top
There's rarely been a greater example of the old "game of two halves" cliche, and it started in the midfield. Brisbane led the clearance count by eight at half-time, contested possessions by 11 and consequently generated 14 more inside 50s. Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver totally flipped that after the break. Oliver had 18 disposals and Petracca 15 as they won clearance after clearance and thumped it forward. The Demons ended up winning the clearance count by two, contested possessions by five and the inside 50 count by three – some turnaround.
Neale gets through return match unscathed
After missing five weeks following ankle surgery, all eyes were on Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale in his return. The brilliant Lions midfielder worked his way into the game nicely, finishing with 25 disposals, including nine clearances. The anticipated James Harmes tag never really eventuated, although the Melbourne stopper lined up alongside Neale at some stoppages. Neale still worked hard in the final term when many of his teammates battled and should be better for the run.
Kozzy comes to life
Melbourne had just 18 inside 50s in the first half, starving its men close to goal of opportunities, including dynamic small forward Kysaiah Pickett. That all changed after the break. Pickett, closely watched by Cal Ah Chee for most of the night, snapped from close range early in the third term to bring his team back within eight points, then goaled again later in the quarter with a quality finish. He then got the final quarter ball rolling with a neat set shot after beating Brandon Starcevich to a mark heading back towards goal.
MELBOURNE 2.3 5.4 10.9 14.13 (97)
BRISBANE 4.4 8.6 10.8 11.9 (75)
Melbourne: McDonald 3, Pickett 3, Fritsch 2, Petracca 2, Gawn, Jackson, Neal-Bullen, Sparrow
Brisbane: Bailey 4, Cameron 2, Coleman, Daniher, Hipwood, McCarthy, Zorko
Melbourne: Petracca, Harmes, Oliver, May, Gawn, Neal-Bullen
Brisbane: Zorko, Bailey, Lyons, Andrews, Neale
Brisbane: Lester (hamstring)
Melbourne: Baker (unused)
Brisbane: Mathieson (replaced Lester)