With some of the sailors returning from the sea and the hunters home from the hill, the ingredients were there for the Xavs to continue their run for the finals.. But any recipe for success requires a method, and on this day, the Red 'n' Blacks didn't really have it.
Old Melburnians, celebrating the 150th game of their midfield champ Tom Paule, went hard all day, shrugging off and then snuffing out the challenge from the home team.
The Dark Blues outmarked, outran and thoroughly outplayed Xavs, and their winning margin probably understated their dominance.
The signs were there early, with only some great defensive pressure keeping Xaverian hopes alive. But when the Xavs had the initiative, they squandered their chances with poor choices, overusing the ball and making unforced skill errors.
When they did get rolling, it was Matt Handley or bust. The big forward was scragged, thumped and outmanned for much of the afternoon, but his perseverance, desire and unerring accuracy netted him seven goals from limited opportunities. It was one of the big man's best efforts, but it went for nought.
It wasn't until the final term that Xavs managed two consecutive goals. The surge back lasted barely five minutes and normal transmission was resumed quickly, with OMs finishing the game as they had begun it.
While the Claret and Stout's oldest player was its best, the other encouraging effort came from its youngest, Sam Ralph. Coach McDonald commended the efforts the 18 year old after the game. "We had a bye last week, but Sam wanted to go back to the U19s and play there. He just wants to play footy," the gaffer said, lamenting that today's team seemed to have few with similar disposition.
There were some who rated a pass mark. Louis Tiernan was hard at it all afternoon and kicked two lovely goals, while Murphy Ambrose battled along with some success. But a team that makes just 48 tackles all afternoon is always going to disappoint. And lose.
With three rounds to go, the Red and Blacks are six points adrift of fourth-placed De La Salle. While a first semi-final is still not out of the question, it is now out of Xaverian hands. Immediately ahead are road trips - to Trinity and to Uni Blacks - to meet teams desperate to avoid relegation before a return to Toorak Park to meet a second-placed Collegians. Winning all those is mandatory, but not the entire solution.
Old Xaverians 0.1-1 3.3-21 7.3-45 11.5-71
Old Melburnians 3.3-21 5.8-38 10.11-71 14.14-98
Goal Kickers: M. Handley 7, L. Tiernan 2, C. Johnston, D. Symeopoulos
Best Players: M. Handley, S. Ralph, L. Tiernan, M. Ambrose