Fresh mindset puts Demons firmly in AFL flag frame
Melbourne's search for AFL perfection is over, replaced by a more achievable stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of another premiership.
A year ago, the Demons were unbeaten in their defence of the 2021 flag, but eventually fell short in a straight-sets finals exit.
Now they're humming again - with a new focus and mindset - as they gear up to take on Port Adelaide in a fourth-versus-second clash at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
"I shouldn't even bring up last year, but (this time) last year we were a bit baked out," Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw told AAP.
"We'd been up for a long time.
"Now our mindset has changed and we're looking to improve each week, as opposed to looking for perfection. That's what we were looking for (last year).
"It's a great place to be in as a group and there will be challenges throughout the year ... but the team that improves the most is the one that goes the furthest."
Melbourne's 7-2 start to the season on the back of a top-ranked attack and third-ranked defence would suggest there is not too much room for improvement.
But there are some adjustments to be made.
Brayshaw noted the Demons coughed up five goals in a 17-minute slump after half-time against lowly Hawthorn last week before shifting momentum back their way, and said there were areas his side could improve.
"I wouldn't say there's one glaring place but you saw it was the consistency over four quarters," he said.
"We're a good team but then when you think about the games we've lost, we haven't shown up against Brisbane and Essendon.
"In that third quarter (against Hawthorn), we can see pretty quickly what happens if we're not on and not bringing our best contest and defence.
"For us, it's not massive improvements, it's respecting the game and respecting the opposition and trying to play four quarters.
"If we can do that, then we'll be alright."
A similar dip in form against Port Adelaide, who are on a six-match winning streak, could spell disaster.
"They're in good form and it's going to be a big game," Brayshaw said.
"It's Friday night footy, our whole group loves those big stages, so we're excited for that.
"We know that we're going to have to be really on our game and we can't have lapses like we had (against Hawthorn) for those longer periods."