Gary Ablett has marked his return to Geelong with another star turn as the Cats held on in an AFL nailbiter against Melbourne.
The frantic, error-riddled last quarter came down to Max Gawn's towering mark with seconds left on Sunday at the MCG.
Gawn missed his easy set shot and the Cats won by three points, 14.13 (97) to 13.16 (94).
After missing Geelong's two pre-season games because of a hamstring strain, Ablett racked up 39 possessions and kicked a goal.
The two-time Brownlow Medallist admitted to nerves in the warmup for his first Geelong game after seven years at Gold Coast.
"But I knew that would go pretty quickly when I got out there," he said.
"It took me a little bit to get into the game, I thought I was a bit rusty early, but I will be better for the run."
Coach Chris Scott said he was delighted to hear Ablett say he was fatigued after the game and would improve.
Demons coach Simon Goodwin also heaped praise on Ablett.
"He's a great player, isn't he?," Goodwin said.
"To come in off no games and to play the way he played, he's just a champion of the game.
"We knew he was going to be a challenge."
Captain Joel Selwood also had 39 disposals in his 250th game, despite being hurt in a fierce Josh Wagner tackle during the third quarter.
The Cats had Melbourne on the ropes at halftime, remarkably scoring from 20 of their 24 inside 50s to lead by 27 points.
But Melbourne roared back in the second half and paid dearly for only managing 1.7 in the last quarter.
The last six scoring shots of the match were behinds.
Cats forward Daniel Menzel took two great marks in front of goal, but missed his shots, and then Melbourne could not take their chances.
Scott said he had sympathy for Gawn and Menzel, noting they should be lauded for the marks they took.
The Cats had several casualties - veteran defender Harry Taylor was forced off in the first quarter with a foot injury and is in doubt for the Easter Monday blockbuster against Hawthorn.
Other than Selwood, Cam Guthrie and Tom Stewart were also noticeably sore.
While rapt with his team's comeback, Goodwin said the loss stung at the start of a season where they are aiming for their first finals appearance since 2006.
"We're certainly not in this caper for losses, hollow like that," Goodwin said.
"We're in the game to win and we didn't do that today.
"We only have ourselves to blame over the course of the match."
While Ablett and Selwood starred, Melbourne onballer Christian Petracca was probably best afield and Menzel kicked four goals.
Wagner also combined with Demons veterans Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince across halfback to help spark the second-half comeback and Gawn was solid in the ruck.