Deprived of finals football in the past eight AFL seasons, Queen’s Birthday has been Melbourne’s biggest game of the year.
That relates to crowd (and importantly gate takings), hype, atmosphere and interest.
But not importance, at least in the mind of coach Paul Roos.
Roos, sick of the gap between the Demons’ best and worst, has little interest in spruiking Monday’s clash with Collingwood.
“We had a lot of big-game players at Fitzroy, but we didn’t have any big games to play in,” Roos laughed on Thursday.
“I don’t understand the logic of being a big-game player, it’s just strange.
“Good players play well every week and good teams play well every week.
“I certainly don’t (place any added importance on the match).
“Every game is important and every game is an opportunity for us to get better.”
Roos, appointed coach at the end of the 2013 season, was brought in to change the losing culture at Melbourne.
Consistency remains his big issue.
The Demons have posted impressive wins over Gold Coast, Richmond and Western Bulldogs at the MCG this season.
But a second-half fadeout against Port Adelaide, which resulted in a 61-point loss last weekend, was a reminder of how much work is required before long-suffering fans can start seriously contemplating a return to finals.
“Our best footy is clearly a lot better than what it has been,” Roos said.
“But our worst is maybe marginally better than two years ago, so that’s really disappointing.
“We’ve just tried to remind them (players) of the need to be really consistent.”
Roos noted it was no great secret that some underperforming players would not be at the club in 2016.
“They would know that, it’s not something that needs to be dramatised,” Roos said.
“I don’t sit there and say to a guy, you’re playing for your career.
“Players are smart enough to understand through the discussions you have and where we want to go as a footy club.
“If coaches can’t do it they go, and if players can’t do it they go.”