Melbourne are continuing to stamp their authority on the competition, the reigning premiers starting their premiership defence with a bang after three weeks.
Even without one of the AFLW's biggest names in Daisy Pearce -- who called time on her playing career after the club's Season 7 premiership win -- these Dees still look formidable, winning by a total of 161 points in their opening three games.
There was some interest in how the Demons would go without their premiership captain, who was often the player that coach Mick Stinear could put in any position on the ground, knowing she'd play her role. From half back to full forward, Pearce did it all in her six seasons at the Demons, but now Melbourne have adapted to not having her out on the field.
Kate Hore has taken to her new role as skipper like a duck to water. In Round 1 against Collingwood, it was Hore that stepped up and led from the front to turn the tide when the Magpies appeared on top. One week later, she was best on ground against the Giants with five goals next to her name. Most recently? She finished with two goals against the Bulldogs to go with 22 disposals. Hore is currently sitting equal second in the competition for goals kicked in Season 8, with eight majors from her three matches, two behind Gold Coast journeywoman Jamie Stanton.
The Demons also have Alyssa Bannan (six goals) and Eden Zanker (five) causing headaches up forward. Having such a strong forward line gives Stinear the flexibility to bring Hore into the middle where she can be just as dangerous as she is inside 50. It's a galore of options, often headlined by their two towers in Tayla Harris and Zanker, who are the two main marking targets.
While Harris didn't hit the scoreboard on the weekend, she made an impact around the ground with four marks (two contested) -- all inside 50 -- to go with her five score involvements and two goal assists. The 26-year-old, unsurprisingly, sits in the top 10 players in the league for marks per game (5.3), along with her captain Hore (5.7).
But those aerial threats are well complemented by the speed provided by the smaller types, such as Bannan who, when goal side of an opponent, is near impossible to stop. So if it's not the two talls in Harris and Zanker that dominate the scoreboard, the Dees have plenty of other avenues to goal which is what makes them such a strong side.
In the Round 3 win over the Dogs, Melbourne had seven different goal scorers -- no team in the competition had more -- five of which kicked multiple.
The Demons had plenty of opportunities and supply going inside 50, the reigning premiers having 46 inside 50s for the match compared to the Bulldogs' 22, which is above the average of 41 for the season.
Melbourne are able to dominate one of two ways, getting the ball straight out of the stoppage with the likes of Paxy Paxman (averaging 18 disposals and 2.5 clearances per game) and Tyla Hanks (23 and 7.3) the real staples in the midfield. The Dees are currently averaging 31 clearances a game and have won the clearance battle in all of their opening three matches. It shows how much dominance they generate from the middle of the ground, which then sets the side up across the field.
The other way -- which is probably their biggest strength -- is on defensive transition, getting the ball inside 50 with a mix of handballs and chip kicks through the corridor to split open a team's zone, this set up evident in the opening three rounds. Add a bit of speed from the likes of Bannan and you've got yourself a just about an unstoppable force coming through the centre of the ground.
Melbourne's fitness and ability to run out a full four quarter performance is also something that not many teams have the ability to do. It's almost like they sit in between second and third gear for the first half of a game before coming home strong, which was particularly evident in the games against the Magpies and Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were able to keep up for the best part of three quarters before Melbourne went on to score four unanswered goals in the last quarter. While the Magpies held a half time lead before the Demons went on a barnstorming run to the tune of eight unanswered goals to runaway with a 42-point win.
Which will make it incredibly hard for other teams to keep up with them this season. Keep up with them for three quarters? Great effort! But beware the shift in gear that takes these Dees to another level when it's required. As the Magpies and Bulldogs have found out, you can't keep up with the inevitable Demon onslaught.
Melbourne's biggest test will come in Round 5 when they face the Cats at GMBHA, that midfield battle something to keep an eye on with Paxman and Hanks set to go head to head with Georgie Prespakis and Amy McDonald. Other exciting fixtures will be a Season 7 preliminary final rematch with North Melbourne in Round 8 at Ikon Park. And then there's the Grand Final rematch to close the home and away season against Brisbane.
As we slowly reach the halfway mark for the season, the Demons are the favourites to claim the premiership in their quest to go back to back, and rightly so. Although, the three fixtures mentioned above will be real tests when Melbourne come face to face with some of the competition's other heavyweights.
But still, with Kate Hore leading the charge and the club hungry to go back to back, you can't take your eyes off the red and the blue.