BRISBANE'S misfiring forward line is only part of the reason for its spluttering start to the season.

After making a semi and preliminary final the past two years, then acquiring Joe Daniher via free agency last October, it was thought the Lions would seriously challenge for a premiership in 2021.

And while their 1-3 start is hardly catastrophic, there's a couple of red lights flashing around the Gabba that would be concerning coach Chris Fagan.

The past two seasons Brisbane has been ranked first and fourth in scoring, but through the first month, it's nowhere near that.

In fact, the Lions are ranked 12th, having scored about 36 fewer points per game than the League-leading Swans and about 21 fewer points than the fourth-ranked Power.

Watching Brisbane lose to the Western Bulldogs last Saturday was like a throwback to the distant past, with balls being bombed long and often giving Daniher, Eric Hipwood and Charlie Cameron little chance.

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The ball movement and delivery inside 50 has been a major problem.

There could be any number of reasons for this, but Brisbane would like to find an answer quickly, starting with Saturday night's date against Daniher's former club Essendon.

"It's always going to be a challenge to come in and get that chemistry right early," Daniher told lions.com.au.

"As time develops I'll certainly get a bit more comfortable with that.

"We haven't quite got the results we're after, but we'll keep working and hopefully they start to come."

Hipwood has kicked eight goals, Daniher seven and Cameron four to date.

The tall forwards have had their moments but are yet to click in the same game.

The absence of Dan McStay – who is available this week – with a knee injury might have had a greater impact than many thought, with his ability to push up to a wing and connect the midfield to the forward line with his penetrating left foot.

Daniel McStay with Eric Hipwood (left) and Charlie Cameron (right) during Brisbane's practice match against Gold Coast. Picture: AFL Photos

Cam Rayner's ruptured ACL in the pre-season also threw a spanner in the works.

Continuity, for so long Brisbane's friend, has been thrown off-kilter.

If Brisbane's ball movement was a science experiment, they'd be getting a 'D' at the moment.

They're ranked 16th for scores per inside 50 and 16th for kicks inside 50 leading to marks. In 2020 they were ranked first and fourth in these categories, respectively.

BRISBANE'S EFFICIENCY INSIDE 50

 

2021

Rank

2020

Rank

Scores per Inside 50%

38.6%

#16

45.2%

#1

Kick Inside 50 Retention %

48.9%

#10

50.1%

#2

Kick Inside 50 Mark %

12.9%

#16

19.2%

#4

Kick Inside 50 to Score %

30.6%

#15

34.7%

#3

Not only is that connection an issue, but so is the volume of opportunities.

Brisbane is ranked last for disposals and just 12th for inside 50s.

Its midfield simply has to improve.

Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale has conceded he was less than 100 per cent fit as he carried a back injury, while most of his midfield partners have also been patchy at best.

Skipper Dayne Zorko is the team's best player for defensive pressure, but has struggled to burst from congestion like he does at his best.

Even more concerning is his lack of discipline, giving away 16 free kicks through four rounds – four more than anyone else in the competition.

All of these issues are easily fixable – just ask St Kilda and Greater Western Sydney after last weekend – but winning more ball and giving its potent forward line more and better quality opportunities would be a good start for Brisbane to get its season going.

Otherwise that not-so-catastrophic 1-3 start could quickly become something much worse in the next month, which features home clashes against the Bombers and Port Adelaide, and road trips to Carlton and Fremantle.