THE PERFORMANCE matched the hype.
Never has there been more expectation surrounding a debut than the arrival of Nick Daicos at Marvel Stadium to start 2022.
The son of Collingwood royalty Peter delivered in an appearance Magpies supporters had been waiting years to see, producing a performance worthy of the famous No.35 jumper.
SAINTS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats
Facing the same club his father made his debut against in 1979, the 2021 No.4 pick didn't disappoint, collecting 27 disposals and 416 metres gained to play a critical role in starting the Craig McRae era with a 17-point win over St Kilda.
Collingwood won only two games after Nathan Buckley ended his near three-decade association with the Magpies on Queen's Birthday last June, before finishing 17th on the ladder – the lowest in the history of the club – amid widespread change inside the club, from top to bottom.
But after dazzling displays from the debutant with a famous surname, a new recruit and a handful of experienced stars, it was the performance of Jordan De Goey that will generate the headlines again. This time for the right reasons after the Pies led for almost the entire encounter.
Six months after an incident in a New York nightclub threatened to end his time at Collingwood once and for all, De Goey rewarded the Magpies' faith first-up with a display that had it all to make the perfect start to the season.
Collingwood controlled most of the first half and could have led by more at the main break, but quickly put the foot down at the start of the third quarter, kicking three goals in three minutes to carve the contest open. De Goey and Steele Sidebottom kicked two classy goals after Josh Daicos lit the fire.
But just when the Magpies looked like putting the game to bed when they led by 35 points, St Kilda debutant Jack Hayes almost singlehandedly pulled Brett Ratten's men back into the contest.
Six months after leading Woodville West-Torrens to back-to-back premierships by winning the Jack Oatey Medal, Hayes produced a performance that will leave recruiters wondering why it took so long for the 25-year-old to get an opportunity at this level.
Hayes dominated the third quarter to finish with three goals in a bruising performance that the Saints will have to find a spot for him if All-Australian ruckman Paddy Ryder returns to fitness for next weekend's trip to Perth to face Fremantle.
But after reeling in a 35-point deficit to hit the lead early in the fourth quarter, Brody Mihocek kicked his third goal to help Collingwood regain its composure before Jack Ginnivan and Oliver Henry added two more moments later to suck the air out of the Saints. The Magpies found a way to bank the four premiership points from there.
Opportunity-starved Dog looms as bargain deal
Patrick Lipinski was starved of opportunity at the Western Bulldogs, managing only 11 appearances last season – two after round 11 and the last as an unused medical sub in round 22 – as Luke Beveridge's men progressed all the way to the final Saturday in September. Right now, the pick No.43 the Magpies sent to the Whitten Oval in exchange for the midfielder looks like a bargain, perhaps the shrewdest deal of a trade period that lacked much drama and movement, after Lipinski finished with 30 disposals, 13 contested possessions and seven inside 50s.
Don't forget the other Daicos
While it was all about Nick Daicos, and rightly so, given his magnificent debut under the bright lights, the other Daicos also delivered a strong showing that showed why he is best used on a wing. Josh Daicos produced a produced a performance that said he didn't want to be known as the brother of or the son of. The 23-year-old finished with 21 disposals and a goal.
Welcome back, Gresham
It took Jade Gresham a little bit of time to get going at Marvel Stadium. But in his first game back since rupturing his Achilles tendon in round three last season, the livewire reminded the game of his quality in the second half. Gresham finished with two goals from 24 touches to be one of St Kilda's prime movers. Brett Ratten will need him to keep elevating his game this year if the Saints are going to return to September.
ST KILDA 3.2 5.6 9.12 12.13 (85)
COLLINGWOOD 4.5 7.9 10.11 15.12 (102)
St Kilda: Hayes 3, Membrey 3, Gresham 2, Kent, King, Sinclair, Wood
Collingwood: Mihocek 3, Ginnivan 2, De Goey 2, Sidebottom 2, Henry 2, J.Daicos, Elliott, Lipinski, McCreery
St Kilda: Sinclair, Hayes, Steele, Marshall, Gresham, Crouch
Collingwood: De Goey, Lipinski, Howe, N. Daicos, T. Adams, Mihocek, J.Daicos
St Kilda: Nil
St Kilda: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (unused)
Collingwood: Tom Wilson (unused)
Crowd: 40,129 at Marvel Stadium