WINLESS Melbourne and Essendon enter their crucial clash on Friday night under enormous pressure, and Demons co-captain Jack Viney has an acute understanding of what it's like to be under siege when facing the Bombers.
In the latest episode of the In the Game with Damian Barrett podcast on AFL.com.au, Viney reflected upon the bitter memory of copping a 148-point hiding from Essendon in just his second AFL game – a defeat that sparked a "terrifying" response from the Demon faithful and "brought grown men to tears" in the changerooms.
Prized father-son recruit Viney – whose father, club great Todd Viney, was working with the club's football department, and still does – experienced a genuine baptism of fire at his beloved club.
He made his debut in round one, 2013, and was one of the few shining lights with 22 possessions (including an equal game-high 16 contested) in a 79-point loss to Port Adelaide at the MCG.
There were no positives, though, when the Mark Neeld-led Demons met the Dons on the same hallowed turf six days later on a Saturday night, April 6.
James Hird's Bombers were under siege themselves after the supplements scandal exploded just two months earlier, but at the time they were a talented team galvanised by their predicament.
The Dees were pounded from siren to siren. If it wasn't bad enough that they were 55 points down early in the third term, they then conceded 14.6 while scoring a solitary behind themselves, going down 28.16 (184) to just 5.6 (36).
For Viney, who was just a week shy of his 19th birthday, it was the aftermath rather than the result that provided the greatest reality jolt.
"We were walking off the ground and (there was booing) and I was like, 'They're booing the umpires or something.' It didn't even register in my head what was happening. And then I realised I'm seeing a whole lot of angry Melbourne supporters leaning over the fence and hurling abuse and throwing scarves," Viney told Barrett.
"That was pretty terrifying.
"And then to get in the rooms and you're seeing grown men cry – players – I'm just like, 'What the hell is happening? This is extremely bad.'"
Viney refused to reveal which teammates had been reduced to tears that night.
"It was hard. You're playing AFL football and as an 18-19-year old that's your dream, but at the time we were really, really struggling," said Viney, now a 100-gamer on the cusp of his 25th birthday.
"We were getting told we have to go back routes to get into training because there's press out the front …
"The next week we lose by (94 points to West Coast at the MCG). That was kind of the whole season (for us), and halfway through that year we lose our coach. And then 'Craigy' (Neil Craig) fills in. When I got to the end of (the year) it was like 'Woah – this is AFL footy.'"
Since then, Melbourne has come a long way under subsequent coaches Paul Roos and successor Simon Goodwin, last year ending a 12-year finals drought and making a preliminary final.
This clash with Essendon arrives at another critical juncture, with the blowtorch to remain on the loser, while the winner will gain some respite.
Just a fortnight ago it loomed as a blockbuster between two potential premiership contenders, but now one of them will slump to 0-3 and inevitably incur further fan backlash and media scrutiny.
According to statistics guru 'Swamp', it will be the first time since 2007 that the two bottom teams have met on a Friday night.
It has happened only five times since the introduction of Friday night football in 1985.