Finals are just around the corner and after an early war of attrition, Collingwood put their hand up as the new favourite once that corner is passed. After four weeks riding high, it's back to reality for the Bulldogs.
1. Dogs brought back down to earth
For much of the past month, expectations around the Bulldogs' true abilities have been exceeded in fine fashion. After making significant strides by defeating sides like the Melbourne Demons and Carlton Blues, there were many who had the youthful team challenging the ascendant Collingwood before the ball was bounced.
With a half remaining, it looked like the Bulldogs were every chance to maintain the momentum that started in Round 2; they had the first goal of the game on the board thanks to a speedy Brooke Lochland centre clearance, inside 50 and steady finish from Elisabeth Georgostathis. After the main break, it was a very different story. The comparative lack of conditioning and endurance from the developing Dogs meant that Collingwood controlled most contests and spread from them at will - Brianna Davey added 11 possesions in the third term alone.
It won't be an easy run home for the Bulldogs either, with games against North Melbourne-Tasmania Kangaroos, Adelaide Crows and the steadily improving Richmond Tigers to round out their home and away season.
2. Has Davey overtaken Blackburn?
Both Brianna Davey and Ellie Blackburn entered this game in All-Australian form, Blackburn's particularly purple patch had her a warm favourite for the league's best and fairest in 2021. Undoubtedly with names like Kiara Bowers and Erin Phillips also in calculations the race remains wide open, however Davey's 28 possesions, eight marks, seven tackles and a goal (not to mention a whopping 451 metres gained - almost one hundred more than Blackburn) set her on track to claim the mantle of favourite with three games remaining.
The former Blues captain has only built further upon her already impressive game since crossing to the Pies and few opposition sides have a ready-made match up for when she goes to work.
3. Bustling Victoria Park
The Magpie Army are famous for their numbers, passion and attitude. With a sellout crowd of over 3,000 in attendance for the second week in a row and the colourful cheer squad filling the airwaves with chants and cheers, the vibe was infectious.
This Collingwood group is well stocked with handy individual players and game-breaking playmakers - but come finals time the Army could provide just the boost they need to go the distance.
With a year from hell in the books and shellshocked fans slowly returning to games, this roiling maelstrom of humanity from Hoddle Street could be just the thing the city of Melbourne needs...that is until they win the premiership of course...