Coach Brad Scott said North Melbourne stood up to their bullies and beat them at their own game after the Kangaroos' 33-point victory against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.
The Saints had won their past four matches against the Kangaroos, with stars Brendon Goddard and Nick Riewoldt regularly putting Scott's men to the sword with match-winning performances.
But the tables turned on Sunday night as the Roos leapfrogged St Kilda into eighth spot on the ladder.
Young tagger Sam Wright restricted Goddard to 20 touches and defender Nathan Grima held Riewoldt to one goal as forward Drew Petrie (four goals) and Leigh Adams (32 possessions, three goals) took the game away from St Kilda.
It was another big step forward for North, who have strung together two upset wins in a row after their shock victory over Adelaide last week.
"We've looked up to Brendon Goddard in the past. He's a super player," Scott told reporters after the match.
"He can play any position on the ground and that's really what we're grooming Sam Wright to do.
"St Kilda have stood over us in the past. Our boys are growing up.
"I've probably lamented the fact in the past I feel like the parent in the glass box above Etihad (Stadium) watching their kids get bullied in the school yard.
"But now we're starting to stand on our own two feet and stand up to the opposition, which is really pleasing," he said.
Meanwhile, St Kilda coach Scott Watters refused to blame injuries for his side's loss.
The Saints led by 26 points early in the second quarter but were outgunned by a determined North Melbourne team that booted 12 goals to five in the second half, as St Kilda lost backman Jason Blake (ankle) and swingman Rhys Stanley (hamstring).
Watters said the Saints' onballers were below their best, particularly after half-time.
"We were beaten in the midfield, (it was) probably one of the first times this year when I really think our midfield lowered their colours," Watters said.
"And that puts the rest of your game under enormous pressure. When we had our opportunities to go forward and execute I thought we were really sloppy.
"The last 10 minutes of the game was extremely disappointing. Sometimes a game breaks at the end, but we pride ourselves as a side that plays every second so it was a disappointing result."
The Saints have slipped to ninth on the ladder and face Essendon next weekend.