MELBOURNE again will be without Jack Watts (hamstring) and Dom Tyson (knee) for the critical clash with top side Adelaide in Darwin on Saturday night.
However, coach Simon Goodwin said both were certain starters for next week's clash with Port Adelaide, with co-captain Jack Viney (foot) also pushing for an unlikely return for that game.
Viney is off crutches and will run this weekend, and will play against the Power if he is "pain free".
The Demons are still also without their other co-captain Nathan Jones, who will miss up to a month more with a quad injury.
"(Watts and Tyson) were both very close, but it's probably at a time of the year where we don't want to take enormous risks with our playing group," Goodwin told reporters.
"We want to make sure they're 100 per cent right to play and with no soreness at all. They're training fully, but we'll give them one more week and get them back the following week.
"We train all our players up to play a certain way, so it really isn't personnel based. Clearly we've got some really good midfielders out of the team.
"But that's provided a great opportunity for guys like (Christian) Petracca, Mitch Hannan and James Harmes to come into the midfield and … last week (they) were very good in that area."
Forgotten midfielder Jack Trengove will miss selection again despite continued strong VFL form, but forward Jesse Hogan pulled up well from his first match since surgery for testicular cancer.
Meanwhile, Demons agitator Bernie Vince will reprise his tagging role on Adelaide's star midfielder Rory Sloane in the Top End showdown.
Vince had 14 disposals and kept Sloane to just 11 as the Demons rallied from a 28-point, second-quarter deficit to beat the Crows by 41 in round eight at Adelaide Oval.
Melbourne won three of its first seven matches this year, but the Adelaide victory kick-started a run of six in the Demons' next eight outings to have them on the cusp of the top four.
"It was certainly a really important game for us," Goodwin said.
"I think that was a game where the club actually got a lot of belief in playing that way, but clearly we know Adelaide are a very good side. They're at the top of the ladder for a reason.
"They play some really good footy and execute the fundamentals extremely well, so we're under no illusions what we're up against this week and the way we're going to have to play in Darwin."
Melbourne has played home matches in Darwin every year since 2010 and will do so until at least next season. The temperature is expected to be just short of 30 degrees at the first bounce.
"We have to assess the conditions when we're up there – clearly it's going to be warm. But we enjoy going up to the Northern Territory," Goodwin said.
"We understand the conditions, we understand the facilities, we understand the oval. We know it could become dewy and wet as the game goes on, and it's something we've prepared for."