Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has lauded Christian Petracca and intends to push ahead with a ruck tandem, after finding some support for his hard-working champion Max Gawn.
The pressure on the previously winless Demons eased after they rallied from a 22-point second quarter deficit to beat Sydney by that same margin at the SCG on Thursday.
A strong contested ball performance in the second half, a massive 73-13 hitout advantage and much improved defensive effort were the keys.
Like several of his teammates the 23-year-old Petracca made a subdued start to the season.
But the undeniably talented forward-midfielder underlined his value by kicking a couple of high quality goals at the SCG.
"Since round two he certainly got scrutinised a lot," Goodwin said.
"He's been sensational the last two weeks and he's getting reward for his effort now.
"He's winning a lot of one-on-one contests, he's working really hard.
"He's developed a few techniques to get off his man and I'm really liking his game at the moment."
Gawn won 55 hitouts and Demons debutant Braydon Preuss won 13, with the former Kangaroos big man also kicking two first-quarter goals playing as a forward.
"He just enabled us to keep the heat on around the ball for a little bit longer and support Gawny," Goodwin said.
"Gawny has done a power of work for us for over a year now with not a lot of support so it was great to see Braydon come in play his role incredibly well and gave us a great target."
Asked if he intended continuing with a Gawn-Preuss ruck tandem, Goodwin said: "I wouldn't see why we wouldn't right now, it worked for us, so I'd be assuming that would be the way forward."
Goodwin regarded the team's performance as a step forward rather than a return to their stellar form near the end of last season.
"There's still huge room for improvement in our side," Goodwin said
Oscar McDonald suffered concussion ,while Neville Jetta and Jay Lockhart were pulled out of the team on match day.
"Nev's got a little bit of knee soreness, so we'll get that assessed and get a little bit more work done and get a bit more information," Goodwin said.
"Jay Lockhart will be right to go (next week). He bent down to put his boots on at training and had a back spasm."