The Western Bulldogs arrived at Etihad Stadium spoiling for a fight and rained blows on Fremantle from the opening bell in a ferocious first quarter that set up their 65-point win.
The slick Dogs made the dazed Dockers look as if they were running in wet sand in their 15.13 (103) to 5.8 (38) AFL win on Sunday.
From the moment Marcus Bontempelli’s opening goal sailed through after barely 16 seconds until the quarter-time siren sounded with Fremantle 41 points in arrears, the Dogs were irresistible.
“It’s a great start to the year … it means they were totally prepared and up for the fight,” Luke Beveridge said of the opening blitz.
“That’s what we ask most weeks and everything flows from there … regardless of what brand or label is put on us we need to be good in the phone box and we need to be good in the Tardis and we were good in both today.”
Jason Johannisen and Shane Biggs led the way with 35 disposals, Jake Stringer – one of 11 goal-kickers – booted five goals and Easton Wood was composed in defence along with Rob Murphy and Matthew Boyd.
Tom Liberatore had a hand in the first goal then was swamped by jubilant teammates when he kicked one of his own soon after in his first game since 2014.
The star onballer celebrated his return with 25 possessions after missing the Dogs’ run to the finals in Beveridge’s first year as he recovered from a knee reconstruction.
Where the Dogs dazzled, the Dockers looked out of sorts from the outset, with Matthew Pavlich then Hayden Ballantyne missing simple set shots in the first quarter as their side went inside the forward 50 just six times.
To make matters worse for Freo, Pavlich was reported and faces a nervous wait to see how the match review panel assesses his front on bump on Wood in the second quarter.
The margin was 50 points at halftime and Lyon found solace in the way his side fought back into the contest.
With Aaron Sandilands missing through suspension and Pavlich, Fyfe and David Mundy not having their usual influence, the Dockers outscored the Dogs in the third term to trail by 40 points at three-quarter time.
Pavlich pulled the margin back to 34 points with his only goal of the day early in the final term, but the Dogs made one final push, kicking the last five goals of the contest to celebrate an impressive win in front of 27,832 fans.
“Credit to the Bulldogs – they were a formidable opponent coming in and I thought that they delivered,” Lyon said.
“They were up for a street fight really and were out of a nice Sunday stroll and we got what we deserved.”