YOU CAN'T measure Gold Coast's new culture, but you can analyse the numbers from its impressive start to the season.
A team some tipped not to win a game all season already has two of them through three rounds, with each match so far decided inside a goal.
There are a variety of reasons, including some individual brilliance, as to why the Suns have bucked the doomsayers' predictions.
Jarrod Witts has more hitouts than any ruckman, Alex Sexton ranks equal-second for goals, Lachie Weller is fifth for effective kicks and the richly talented Jack Martin is playing as well as ever.
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As a team, Gold Coast has taken the second-most intercept marks in the competition – after placing 13th in that category last year – and is clearly playing a freer, bolder style.
However, possibly no development is more significant than the Suns' remodeled back six.
Reigning club champion Jarrod Harbrow and Pearce Hanley are the only regular members of last year's defence who have spent at least 75 per cent of their time in backline roles in 2019.
Out are the likes of former co-captain Steven May and Kade Kolodjashnij, both of whom are now at Melbourne, while Rory Thompson suffered a season-ending knee injury at training in early March.
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In come ex-Docker Sam Collins via the VFL and Jack Hombsch from Port Adelaide, on top of second-year player Charlie Ballard and Lachie Weller, in his second season since leaving Fremantle.
Collins, in particular, has been a revelation and sits equal-fourth for contested marks, equal-second for intercept marks and equal-10th (with Ballard) for intercept possessions.
Direct from the VFL, Sam Collins has been a revelation in the Suns' backline this season. Picture: AFL Photos
Between them, they are the AFL's third-stingiest defence and have conceded the second-fewest scoring shots. No one saw that coming, either, even in an early-season sample.
New defensive coach Josh Drummond, who crossed from North Melbourne in the off-season, deserves plenty of credit, too.
Gold Coast's defenders are doing it under some duress as well.
The Suns' 57 inside 50s against per game are the fifth-most of any side, yet they concede a score only 36 per cent of the time, which is third-best.
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Now for the disclaimers.
Gold Coast's three opponents to date – St Kilda, Fremantle and Western Bulldogs – all placed in the bottom six for scores per inside 50 last season.
Carlton, which faces the Suns this week, was also in that group in 2018.
Arguably the greatest concern for Gold Coast's coaching staff might be the way it is scoring – or the way it is being forced to score.
Only once, in round two against the Dockers, did the Suns win the territory battle, but they countered that in the other two games by transitioning the ball efficiently from their back half.
Gold Coast launched 29 per cent of its scores from the defensive 50 in those two rounds and about 30 per cent came from centre bounces, both of which will be difficult to sustain or rely upon.
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Another potential problem area is at stoppages.
The Suns' matches in the first three rounds have all resulted in bulk stoppages – averaging the sixth-, fourth- and second-most per week – but they ranked just ninth, 10th and 15th for points from them.
They've also conceded the fifth-most points from clearances this season.
Putting out some of those spot fires will go a long way to this feelgood story becoming a fairytale.
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Melbourne ranks dead last for groundball-gets inside 50 at minus-34 this season – the next worst is Gold Coast at minus-23 – and lost that count by 12 against Geelong and 14 to Essendon.
They were the Dees' worst two efforts in that statistic since the start of last year.
Melbourne ranked fourth in the AFL at minus-32 across the entire 2018 season.
Kangaroos play keepings off
North Melbourne clearly took Hawthorn by surprise with its game style in the opening quarter of their MCG clash on Sunday.
The Roos' 47 effective short kicks were the most in a first term since St Kilda in round three, 2016, while their 51 uncontested marks are the equal second-most on record.
Only Fremantle's round one side from 2006, which racked up 57 that day, had more than North's effort.
The Kangas led by 19 points at the first break but history will show that the Hawks not only responded but went on to win the match.
The Kangaroos were on top early before faltering against the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos
Lopsided contested possession tally
Carlton coach Brendon Bolton bemoaned post-match on Saturday his team's inability to adapt to the breakneck pace of its game against the Swans.
Bolton watched as his Blues had 148 contested possessions among their 303 overall disposals.
There were only two other occasions since 2015 where a team had fewer disposals and at a higher contested possession rate than Carlton at the weekend.