Alex Neal-Bullen and Jordan Dawson pose for a photo at Adelaide Oval on April 3, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ADELAIDE captain Jordan Dawson says there's no bigger stage for his winless and finals-starved club than opening Gather Round.

But he's adamant Thursday night's sold-out clash against Melbourne at Adelaide Oval won't define the season for his struggling Crows.

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"We're three weeks in to a 23-game season," Dawson told reporters on Wednesday.

"We want to get the win but I wouldn't say (it's) season-defining ... we're not putting that kind of pressure on it."

The Crows are rank outsiders to end their three-game losing streak against a Melbourne outfit holding third spot on the ladder.


But Dawson said Adelaide, who hasn't played finals since 2017, has identified reasons for its early flops.

"We've tried to pinpoint some issues that we're having, we've been able to do that this week," he said.

"And the key thing is to stay positive as a group - review what we have to do, individually and as a team, and then work on it from there and try and implement it tomorrow night.

"We noticed, last week especially, our shape on the ground defensively and offensively was nowhere near what it needed to be.

"That created a bit of randomness, I suppose, as a group when we get the ball.

"I feel really confident of our review and what we got out of it. And individuals are really clear on their roles now.

"We have just got to implement those roles individually and be better as a team."


The Crows, the League's highest-scorers last season, are also struggling in attack - they have posted middling totals of 34, 77 and 54 points in their trio of losses.

They will again be tested by Melbourne's renowned defence, which is set to be boosted by the return of All Australian backman Steven May after a one-game absence due to broken ribs.

The Demons have also dismissed concerns over ex-skipper Jack Viney, who missed training on Wednesday because of illness.

"He was sick today, kept away from the group just to make sure the whole group doesn't come down with anything," Melbourne utility Alex Neal-Bullen told reporters.


May's likely return could prompt Harrison Petty to be redeployed in attack - the versatile South Australian was a recruitment target of the Crows at the end of last season.

The Demons rejected a trade for the contracted Petty but Adelaide is understood to be preparing another bid at season's end.

"He's loving his footy this year in Melbourne and he's playing such an important role for us, whether that's forward or back," Neal-Bullen said of Petty.

"(The future) is something for 'Pettsy'. We hope he stays long-term in Melbourne, but right now we just want him to be playing the best footy in our team and we're looking forward to that tomorrow night."