Melbourne are adamant their AFL demons are being exorcised, regardless of some ongoing horrors.
Coach Paul Roos says his team is growing in stature, but are not quite good enough to match it with the best.
Melbourne will take a five-game losing streak at TIO Stadium and a seven-game losing streak against Fremantle into Saturday night’s Top End match.
It is typical of the Demons’ lot – they have lost their last 13 matches against Hawthorn and St Kilda, while North Melbourne have a 15-game winning run against them.
Last year’s win over GWS was Melbourne’s first at Etihad Stadium since 2007.
But Roos said the numbers do not tell the full story.
“We’ve broken them in the sense that the players seem more confident when we’re playing now,” Roos said.
“We don’t really reflect on it, but part of your evolution as a young footy team is to win in different venues, to win against teams on different rungs on the ladder.
“We’ve made some really significant (advances) this year, but what we’ve seen is that top level is still a little bit away.”
Roos added that the trick for Melbourne is playing better for longer.
“That’s going to be the focus for us going into the game,” he said of Saturday’s clash.
“(Against) Adelaide, we felt we did really well in patches, but their ability to do it for longer was the four-goal difference in the end.”
Fremantle had a bad streak of their own, starting a season of great expectations with 10 consecutive losses.
But Roos said they were mindful that the Dockers had come into this year as premiership fancies.
“We’ll treat Freo as the team they’ve been in the last four years – so we know we need to play extremely well to beat them,” he said.
Roos is also unfazed about Melbourne’s poor record in Darwin, saying the time away was a valuable chance to further develop the young team.
“We haven’t had a great record at Etihad, which is about 15 minutes away from here,” Roos noted ruefully.
“Having coached an interstate team, there were a lot of benefits about going away every second week.
“We know, even in the last two-and-a-half, three years, we’re still being a developing team.
“Playing anywhere is hard.”