Coach Simon Goodwin has lauded Melbourne's "outstanding" defence after the Demons ground their way past Fremantle to kick off their AFL season with a win for the first time since 2017.
An unanswered four-goal opening quarter set Melbourne on their way and they never lost the lead all day, prevailing 11.14 (80) to 8.10 (58) in front of 21,365 fans at the MCG.
Crucial to that effort was a dominant display from defensive twin towers Steven May (24 disposals, eight marks) and Jake Lever (18 disposals, seven marks).
"We had such command from behind the ball ... I thought our back six were outstanding today in the way they defended," Goodwin said.
"... Having May, Lever and (Adam) Tomlinson playing a good chunk of footy together, makes a massive difference to your team.
"You can see with that cohesion and their ability to intercept the ball, be really strong at the contest and really work well together - it's no coincidence that they're playing well.
"They're probably our most mature area of the ground, behind the footy and I think that's helping us and enabling us to be more aggressive in other areas of the game."
It was a rough day for Fremantle, who saw defender Alex Pearce (knee) substituted off for Stefan Giro in the second term, while fellow backman Joel Hamling (ankle) limped off in the final quarter.
Pearce, who was playing his first game since fracturing his ankle in round 11, 2019 will undergo scans on a suspected medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury.
In his 100th AFL game, Melbourne on-baller Clayton Oliver (35 disposals, seven clearances) racked up the ball at will and was well-supported by Christian Petracca (24 touches, two goals), while a resurgent Tom McDonald (two goals) provided a strong forward target.
Fremantle's Andrew Brayshaw (29 touches) and skipper Nat Fyfe (27 disposals, nine clearances) also had plenty of the Sherrin while Matt Taberner kicked three goals.
It took nearly 15 minutes for either team to land a genuine blow in an error-strewn first quarter - but Melbourne settled quickest, booting five goals before Sam Switkowski finally snapped the Dockers' first in the second term.
Freo enjoyed a third-quarter resurgence, drawing within two goals, but were largely unable to make the most of their better moments.
Justin Longmuir's side again butchered multiple chances to cut the deficit in the final term and when Petracca bounced through his second goal to put the Dees 23 points up, it proved enough to seal the deal.
"Really frustrating - there's not much you can do when your skills let you down," Longmuir said.
"I said to the players after the game: 'when you've got momentum in the game you need to cash in' and we didn't do that at all today."