Jack Viney and Brayden Maynard remonstrate during the First Qualifying Final between Collingwood and Melbourne at the MCG, September 7, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THE FIERCE history between Collingwood and Melbourne has deep roots, and if those seemed to be fading into the past the events of last year's qualifying final relit a fire under what was once the league's hottest rivalry.

After not facing each other in September since 1989 the seven-point result would have been enough to rekindle the flames, but it was the first-quarter incident in which Magpies defender Brayden Maynard crashed into Angus Brayshaw and caught the Demons player high that proved the flashpoint.

Brayshaw was knocked out in the collision and forced to retire in February because of "microscopic changes" to his brain following the latest in a string of on-field concussion incidents.

Maynard was charged with rough conduct but then controversially cleared of wrongdoing at the tribunal.


However, Melbourne captain Max Gawn dismissed suggestions the incident had added a spiteful element to the rivalry between two old foes.

"There is a rivalry between the two teams, purely from where we've been sitting the last five years ... and this game has always been a game to look forward to," Gawn said.

"I know what you're trying to get at with some of the things that happened in the game last year, but we can't take that into this game.

"It's a purely new game and there might be a little bit of revenge about the qualifying final because we got handed a beating by Collingwood.


"So there is a little bit (of a feeling) that we want to make sure we get one back on them, but to take any personal battles out there certainly wouldn't be the case."

Collingwood captain Darcy Moore was also careful of his words ahead of Monday’s King’s Birthday clash, choosing not to make too much of a post-season incident where Melbourne defender Steven May claimed the Demons "should have smoked" their opponents and were "so much better" than the eventual premiers.

May later backtracked on those comments, conceding he could have chosen better words to use in a speech at Melbourne's best-and-fairest ceremony.

The Magpies' skipper brushed off May's comments on Wednesday.

"We were pretty busy celebrating after September so we didn't spend too much time on it," Moore said.

Darcy Moore and Brayden Maynard celebrate winning the Grand Final between Collingwood and Brisbane at the MCG, September 30, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

"Every time we play against Melbourne certainly feels like we're coming up against a quality team and the game's going to be on.

"Our last game, that qualifying final, was as big a game as we've played in."

Ninth-placed Collingwood is tackling a horror injury list and had its eight-match unbeaten run ended last week in an 18-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, Melbourne has slipped to 10th spot on the back of a worrying form slump.

The Demons have lost three of their past four games and were "completely smashed" in all three phases of the game in a 92-point thrashing from Fremantle last Sunday.

Moore and Gawn came together on Wednesday at the 10th annual Big Freeze match launch.

Gawn hopes a mid-week visit from AFL great and former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher can be the circuit breaker the Demons are looking for.

Brianna Davey, Darcy Moore, Max Gawn, Ben Daniher and Kate Hore during a Big Freeze media opportunity on June 5, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"Neale kind of was that for us. We're lucky that this is the week," Gawn said.

"To be able to see him on Tuesday puts a lot of things into perspective about how we're actually going in life and football."

The annual Big Freeze match raises money for FightMND, which funds research into finding a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.

Daniher was diagnosed with MND in 2013.