THEY haven't beaten anyone.
The critics lined up to lace both Collingwood's and Melbourne's positive start to the year with doubt ahead of the biggest Queen's Birthday clash since 2006 at the MCG on Monday.
That same distrust will continue to plague the Demons, whereas Nathan Buckley's red-hot Magpies earned some deserved respect with an emphatic 20.13 (133) to 14.7 (91) victory.
Collingwood snapped Melbourne's much-lauded six-match winning streak in the process to extend their own run to four and enter the bye in sixth place with an 8-4 record.
CLASSY PIES PREVAIL: Full match coverage and stats
"Extremely (satisfying) – every win is – but we played probably our most consistent four-quarter performance to date and there's still a lot of improvement (to come)," Buckley told reporters post-match.
"There are still some things I reckon we can get better at, but we'll leave that for review, because I thought our intent from the start was really strong.
"In the end, when you look at the ability of us to prevent a side that's been going inside their forward 50 heavily – averaging 65 (entries) the last six, seven weeks – to be able to keep them to 40-odd was the most pleasing part of the game."
SHOWREEL Cox kicks career-best five goals
The Demons slipped outside the top four after starting the day with a chance to go second, but will need to build again ahead of a Friday night date with Port Adelaide after their week off.
American Pie Mason Cox booted a career-best five goals and Jordan De Goey (30 disposals) was the firestarter with a hand in Collingwood's first four scores and 10 of his 12 inside 50s to half-time.
The all-time record is 16, to put De Goey's extraordinary effort into perspective, shared by Patrick Dangerfield, Mark Ricciuto and Adam Simpson.
It was only when Demons coach Simon Goodwin sent his co-captain Jack Viney to him in the third quarter that De Goey finally cooled off somewhat.
Steele Sidebottom (32, six inside 50s), Adam Treloar (32, seven clearances) and Taylor Adams (27, eight clearances) were similarly outstanding.
HOT PIE DELIVERS Five talking points
Ex-Melbourne pair Jeremy Howe and Lynden Dunn were rocks in defence for their new team.
Howe was an intercepting force across half-back and Dunn became the first player to keep Jesse Hogan goalless in 2018.
"It was a disappointing day in terms of how we played," Goodwin said.
"I thought Collingwood's pressure around the ball was outstanding, they clearly won the clearances and generated a lot of forward momentum from there, and won the territory battle.
"That put us under a lot of pressure. All phases of our game weren't to the level that we're used to.
"They tackled incredibly well and I thought we fumbled the ball due to their pressure. It's something they were very good at, but we need to be able to absorb."
GAMEBREAKER De Goey the dominant delight
Buckley looked in danger of losing his job last year – and was considered fortunate to keep it in some quarters – but now has his side playing tough, uncompromising and at-times brilliant football.
The Magpies blitzed the Demons with a 19-minute, five-goals-to-one assault to start the game that put 27 points between the sides in front of a crowd of 83,518.
Melbourne sliced the margin to five points midway through the second term, but that owed more to Collingwood's errors, with all of the Dees' five second-quarter goals coming from turnovers.
Once the black and white army's composure returned, combined with the continued obliteration of Melbourne in clearances (45-26), the buffer blew out again.
Possibly never before has Max Gawn's hit-out prowess been nullified to such an extent, the initial link in the chain that saw the Magpies smash Melbourne in the clinches.
So much was made pre-match of the Gawn-Brodie Grundy ruck battle – potentially to decide the All Australian frontrunner – and little of the analysis played out.
Gawn actually won more disposals than Grundy (17-13), but it was the Collingwood star's ability to win the hit-outs that struck a major blow to the Demons' ambitions.
The Magpies' stunning start included them leading Melbourne's vaunted on-ball brigade in contested possessions at quarter-time and their pressure was immense.
The Demons were repeatedly forced to try and handball their way out of trouble early – a theme that emerged again in the third term when Collingwood shot 30 points up – and the quest predictably came unstuck.
Melbourne led the AFL with 14.5 more inside 50s than its opposition in the opening 11 rounds, but had just seven at quarter-time, 17 to half-time and eventually lost the count by 21.
Tom McDonald played a lone hand in attack with 6.0 and eight marks, while veteran Jordan Lewis won 33 possessions at half-back and Clayton Oliver had 31 possessions and 10 tackles.
Melbourne: Oscar McDonald (concussion) went to the rooms early in the fourth term, leaving the Demons even more exposed in defence. Neville Jetta seemed to hurt his knee and ankle in an attempted spoil on Collingwood's Will Hoskin-Elliott in the third quarter, but played on without leaving the field. But Jetta followed McDonald off the field after hurting his shoulder. Both players are expected to be fine after the bye.
Collingwood: Injury-prone Magpie Daniel Wells limped from the field in the second term with a left foot issue, but he returned to the field and had five disposals in the final quarter.
Both sides have the week off to reflect on their Queen's Birthday fortunes. Melbourne returns to action on Friday night, June 22 against the Power at Adelaide Oval in another big test. Collingwood goes on the hunt for a fifth win on the trot against Carlton on Sunday, June 24 at the MCG.
MELBOURNE 2.0 7.2 11.5 14.7 (91)
COLLINGWOOD 5.5 9.9 15.11 20.13 (133)
Melbourne: T.McDonald 6, Hannan 2, Harmes, Fritsch, Neal-Bullen, Gawn, Viney, Oliver
Collingwood: Cox 5, Hoskin-Elliott 4, Stephenson 4, Thomas 3, Pendlebury, Mihocek, Adams, Treloar
Melbourne: T.McDonald, Jetta, Oliver, Smith, Jones
Collingwood: De Goey, Cox, Adams, Hoskin-Elliott, Sidebottom, Treloar
Melbourne: O.McDonald (concussion), Jetta (shoulder)
Collingwood: Wells (foot)
Umpires: Donlon, Haussen, Findlay
Official crowd: 83,518 at the MCG