MELBOURNE coach Simon Goodwin has labelled Thursday night's 51-point demolition to Port Adelaide as his side's poorest in a flagging campaign that is not far from being lost.
The Demons looked to be gaining momentum in the previous three weeks but followed up wasting a chance to beat Brisbane four nights ago with a dreadful display.
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They still have a game to make up against Essendon but a Collingwood victory on Sunday over Fremantle would leave them 10 points out of the top eight at effectively the halfway mark.
Melbourne faces the competition's bottom two teams, Adelaide and North Melbourne, in its next two matches and must win both to maintain any slim finals hopes.
Goodwin said the error-strewn performance "looked nothing like us" as the Demons again failed to fully capitalise on captain Max Gawn's ruck dominance.
"That's as poor a performance as we've put on this year," Goodwin told reporters post-match.
"For the majority of the year, we've improved our method, we've improved our stability, we've improved a lot of things, but tonight is unacceptable.
"I thought we clearly got beaten by a pretty good team, but it was the way we got beaten. All the phases of the game (were) not to the level.
"We've got six days to turn our season around. We're going to play a lot of these games in the next little period off short breaks and we just didn't handle it very well at all tonight."
Goodwin was scathing of his players' skill execution and method, particularly going inside 50, with the ladder-leading Power outscoring Melbourne by 48 points on turnover.
"It certainly wasn't the way we wanted to move the ball, and our execution was poor, and that put us under a lot of pressure early in the game," he said.
"Port were terrific – they transitioned the ball very well from their back half – and they outworked us from contest areas and, as I said, that's as poor as we've been in that phase of the game."
Struggling midfielder Angus Brayshaw won only 11 disposals and has only 20 in the past two games, with inclusion Tom Sparrow receiving more centre-bounce opportunities than he did (11 to eight).
It was a great result for Ken Hinkley's Port Adelaide, which was fresh from a disappointing loss to St Kilda on Saturday night and had lost two of its previous four contests.
"We don't want to be that response team but it's better to respond than not," Hinkley said.
"We've had a pretty positive first nine weeks of the season, so it was good for the boys.
"We talked about (being stronger around the contest) leading into the game … and we were certainly stronger around the contest against a really strong midfield and an elite ruckman (Gawn)."
Hinkley admitted they put a lot of time into preparing for Gawn, who dominated the hitouts but his side lost centre clearances and contested possession and barely won the clearances.
He praised Ollie Wines' "outstanding" performance, while fellow inside midfielders Travis Boak and Sam Powell-Pepper and wingman Karl Amon also performed well.
"When we get it right, our balance looks OK – and tonight we got it pretty close to right," Hinkley said.
With Todd Marshall out and Charlie Dixon (one goal) subdued, third-gamer Mitch Georgiades bobbed up to kick three goals and swingman Justin Westhoff slotted two.