St Kilda have moved to within a win of the top eight with a 76-point victory over the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium in Brendon Goddard's 200th AFL match.
The lead grew at every change on Sunday, and although the match was a pushover, the 16.22 (118) to 6.6 (42) result did little to convince the Saints can have an impact deep in September.
Skipper Nick Riewoldt took 14 marks and finished with a four-goal bag but his three behinds signalled the return of his infamous goal-kicking yips and that seemed infect his team-mates as the match descended into a lacklustre walkover.
Riewoldt started superbly, booting three of his side's four opening-quarter goals as St Kilda took an eight-point lead into the first break.
That was where the contest ended as St Kilda added 12 of the next 14 goals and held the Bulldogs goalless from the 17-minute mark of the second term until 16 minutes into the last.
It was an all too familiar story for the Bulldogs, as their impotent attack failed to convert the hard work of team-mates up the field onto the scoreboard during the first half.
At half time the inside 50s count was 24 each, but the contrasting efficiency up forward was the main difference between the bottom-10 teams and the lack of reward meant Brendan McCartney's men wilted in the second half.
St Kilda's intensity without the ball was also a significant factor. The winners laid 77 tackles to 51 despite leading the disposal count 399 to 331.
Goddard, out of contract at season's end, relished his milestone match and the accompanying cheers from Saints fans. He helped himself to a game-high 33 disposals, his best return for the season.
Lenny Hayes played a typical Lenny Hayes game with 28 disposals while tagger Clint Jones restricted Dogs playmaker Ryan Griffen to a below-par 23 touches.
Matthew Boyd was the Bulldogs' leading ball-winner with 27 possessions and Robert Murphy tried hard across halfback with 19 touches.
Just as their season has unfolded, the Bulldogs became less competitive as the match progressed.
Tom Williams exemplified the Dogs' woes in the second term when he took two bustling marks in his forward half within 30 seconds. But the defender-cum-forward failed to score as both shots sailed out of bounds.
Compounding the Bulldogs' loss was a potentially career-threatening shoulder injury to veteran Daniel Cross. The midfielder left the field early in the second quarter and was seen fighting back tears before donning the red vest.
The 10th-placed Saints are one win behind North Melbourne (eighth) and Fremantle (ninth) but their superior percentage means they are well within touch of a finals berth with five rounds left.'''ST KILDA:''' 4.5, 7.10, 12.17, 16.22 (118)
'''WESTERN BULLDOGS:''' 3.3, 4.4, 4.5, 6.6 (42)'''GOALS: St Kilda:''' Riewoldt 4, Hayes 3 Schneider 2, Koschitzke 2, Dal Santo 2, Montagna , Steven, Milne
'''Western Bulldogs:''' Giansiracusa 2, Dickson, Tutt,
'''BEST: St Kilda:''' Armitage, Hayes, Riewoldt, McEvoy, Jones, Geary
''' Western Bulldogs:''' Murphy, Minson, Boyd, Picken, Griffen
'''INJURIES: St Kilda:''' Nil
''' Western Bulldogs:''' Cross (shoulder)
'''SUBSTITUTES: St Kilda:''' Dunell replaced Schneider (third quarter)
''' Western Bulldogs:''' Veszpremi replaced Cross (second quarter)
'''CHANGES: St Kilda:''' Beau Wilkes replaced Arryn Siposs in selected side
''' Western Bulldogs:''' Nil
'''UMPIRES:''' Stevic, Stewart, Bannister
'''CROWD:''' 23,456 at Etihad Stadium