Scott Pendlebury was stoic and Dane Swan starred on Friday night, when Collingwood overcame a slow start to belt St Kilda by 74 points at the MCG.
The Magpies gave up five of the opening seven goals in a free-flowing contest and looked to be overwhelmed by the Saints’ attack on the ball and relentless run through the middle.
Pendlebury helped settle proceedings before the ‘Pies busted the game open with 25 Inside-50s in the second quarter, building a 32-point lead at halftime.
Travis Cloke booted five goals, while Swan tallied 38 disposals, seven clearances and 15 Inside-50s as their side triumphed 21.14 (140) to 10.6 (66).
So much of the game’s build-up focused on a tale of two captains – Pendlebury (ankle) and St Kilda counterpart Nick Riewoldt (calf) both in doubt due to injury.
Both were named on the team sheets, but the Saints made a last-minute call to omit Riewoldt and blood No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin in his place.
Pendlebury looked to be bothered by his injury at times, but insisted post-match it “felt good”.
“I was glad I was able to get out there and play a game like this,” Pendlebury said after grabbing 30 possessions, despite being tagged by Maverick Weller.
Pendlebury was at his most influential when it mattered most, with most Magpies struggling to get their hands on the ball or an opponent during the Saints’ early salvo.
The 27-year-old’s pinpoint passes were hard to miss in an opening quarter full of turnovers.
St Kilda fans will bemoan the fact Pendlebury was awarded six freekicks in the first half, one less than what was given to the Saints at that point.
Regardless of whether they were all there, it reflected the fact Pendlebury was first to the ball.
A total of 12 goals came before quarter-time, a lack of pressure resulting in the highest-scoring first term between the two sides since 1985.
Something had to give.
It was St Kilda’s under-siege defence as Collingwood equalled a club record 77 Inside-50s for the match.
Cloke was well held by Sam Fisher in the opening quarter, but looked far more menacing in the second term.
The power forward missed some of his easiest shots in front of the sticks and finished with 5.4.
At the other end of the park, McCartin struggled to influence the contest.
That was through no fault of his. The majority of the Saints’ delivery to their forwards was slapdash.