ROUND one must seem like a lifetime ago for North Melbourne and Gold Coast.
Almost four months after both teams started their 2018 campaigns in Cairns, there were no monsoonal conditions under the Etihad Stadium roof, nor was there another Suns upset, as the Kangaroos eased to a comfortable 37-point victory on Sunday.
North Melbourne's 14.11 (95) to 8.10 (58) win kept Brad Scott's side within touching distance of the top eight, extending Gold Coast's wretched winless run to 10 matches.
ROOS TOO GOOD Full match coverage and stats
However, they hardly had everything their own way in a trying battle.
Ben Brown had threatened to break the game open in its early stages, stretching his lead in the Coleman Medal race to seven goals with a haul of four majors for the afternoon.
TALKING POINTS Gut punches on centre stage
The lanky North Melbourne forward stalked everything in his vicinity, slotting three goals in the first quarter in an ominous sign of things to come.
But the visitors soon clicked into gear, with captain Steven May giving 100-gamer Rory Thompson a chop-out on Brown and cutting all of North's avenues to goal in the process.
As a result, Gold Coast nearly made the hosts regret their early inefficiency.
The Suns flirted with a legitimate fightback after quarter-time against a sleepy Kangaroos outfit barely able, or perhaps willing, to move into second gear.
But further reducing an 11-point half-time deficit appeared dependent on May, who limped to the bench on the stroke of half-time with a hip injury and looked far from comfortable upon the resumption of play.
Frustrated by the setback, May's strike to the ribs of Shaun Higgins resulted in a costly free kick and goal as North Melbourne regained control of the game in the third term.
It was one of a number of off-the-ball incidents involving Higgins, who still managed 26 disposals and a goal despite being the recipient of a heavy Alex Sexton tag throughout the afternoon.
The Brownlow Medal fancy was again arguably the pick of the bunch in North Melbourne's midfield, with Scott Thompson (31 disposals and nine marks) and Robbie Tarrant (26 disposals and 10 marks) impenetrable behind the footy.
Turnovers and sloppy decision-making errors had crept into North Melbourne's game in the second quarter, but once they were ironed out there was only ever going to be one winner.
The Kangaroos kicked five goals to one in the third quarter to eventually put breathing space on the Suns, before Majak Daw's late party tricks sealed the result.
Shifting forward in the second half, Daw kicked two goals from strong overhead marks to help crucially boost the Roos' percentage as their hunt for finals footy continues.
They subsequently finish the weekend just 2.1 per cent behind the eighth-placed Hawks, though they might still hope that round one defeat doesn't come back to bite them.
Post-game, North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said he was pleased with the result, but not necessarily the performance of his side.
"If you start the day and you think you'll walk away with a six-goal win, depending on how it unfolds, the result is OK," Scott said.
"We did some pretty good things and Gold Coast defended pretty well. We probably needed to change some things with our forward structure to take more opportunities from 63 inside 50s to 37.
"There was enough control around the ball to end up with a result, but we'd like to play a bit better than we did today."
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew said his side will take belief from the fightback they produced in the second quarter, having started slowly.
“I thought we started really sluggish," Dew said.
"We gave them a look, which was disappointing, given we wanted to pick up where we left off last week.
"I thought our second quarter was probably a picture of what we want to show our fans and community. I think we had probably 11 shots, only nine scoring shots, maybe from 13 inside 50s.
"I think the players get a little bit of belief from that and hopefully our supporters do, because now it’s just about sustaining and bringing that more often."
North Melbourne: Cameron Zurhaar sat out most of the last quarter with a low-grade ankle sprain, though the club is hopeful it's not serious. Ben Jacobs made it through the encounter unscathed, having missed last week with a delayed concussion.
Gold Coast: Steven May injured his hip on the stroke of half-time and was clearly hampered after the main break. Sean Lemmens had a concussion test after a heavy knock, but was passed fit and played out the remainder of the match.
North Melbourne faces a huge test of its finals ambitions when it takes on Sydney at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Gold Coast is back at Metricon Stadium to host Essendon on Saturday night.
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.2 7.4 12.6 14.11 (95)
GOLD COAST 1.0 5.5 6.7 8.10 (58)
North Melbourne: Brown 4, Daw 2, Ahern 2, Higgins, Clarke, Jacobs, Turner, Ziebell, Goldstein
Gold Coast: Wright, Martin, Crossley, Young, Holman, Miller, Sexton, Witts
North Melbourne: Thompson, Cunnington, Higgins, Jacobs, Ahern, Brown
Gold Coast: May, Miller, Lyons, Martin
North Melbourne: Zurhaar (foot)
Gold Coast: Nil
Umpires: Deboy, Gavine, Hosking
Official crowd: 14,389 at Etihad Stadium