The doubt on Dees that won’t go away
COACH Simon Goodwin doesn't think it's an issue, but that nagging doubt about Melbourne winning on the big stage against a legitimate flag contender just won't go away.
As good as the Demons were for much of Friday night's game against Port Adelaide at the inhospitable Adelaide Oval, they still failed to get the job done.
As much as the stats sheet suggested they could have won, and perhaps even should have, the Dees are one of only nine teams to have lost after winning the inside-50 count by 29 or more.
The only thing they have brought back is a honourable loss that counts for little.
The Demons won't get the chance to put that doubt to bed for at least another month.
Ahead, they have games against St Kilda, Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs, which should all provide victories, to potentially go a long way to locking in an elusive finals berth for the first time since 2006.
But it won't be until Goodwin's team takes on the Cats at Geelong in round 18 that we get another gauge on whether the Dees have it in them to knock off a serious contender.
If it hadn't been for a skewed Max Gawn shot for goal in the closing minutes of round one, the Demons might have beaten the Cats. Instead, that was another missed opportunity.
So far this year, the Demons have beaten the Brisbane Lions, North Melbourne (admittedly not as easy as it looked at the time), Essendon, St Kilda, Gold Coast, Carlton, Adelaide (as the Crows started their slide) and the Western Bulldogs.
Eight wins and five losses put Melbourne firmly in the finals frame.
But losses against Geelong (three points), Hawthorn (67), Richmond (46), Collingwood (42) and Port Adelaide (10) have meant that doubt about the Demons' premiership credentials remains.
There are other big challenges in the second half of the season - Sydney at the MCG in round 21 and West Coast in Perth in tound 22.
Goodwin said on Friday night that he had no doubt the Demons could mix it with the best.
"We are a behaviours-based club and I thought our behaviours tonight were outstanding," he said.
"We play a game of small margins, that game could've gone either way.
"Our efficiency inside 50 probably wasn't at our best … it's been an area we've been relatively strong for most of the year.
"I thought Port's defenders did a great job. They won and neutralised a lot of contests so it's something if you get supply you'd like to score more, so that was a pretty defining factor in the game.
"But first and foremost the way we wanted the game set up in terms of getting that supply I thought we were outstanding."