Melbourne have ended their best season under Paul Roos on a high with a drought-breaking 26-point win over Greater Western Sydney.
The Demons took a 22-game losing streak at Etihad Stadium into Sunday's clash but a Nathan Jones-inspired third quarter set up the 15.13 (103) to 11.11 (77) victory - their first at the venue since 2007.
Melbourne leapfrogged St Kilda into 13th spot on the ladder with their seventh win of the season, which Roos believes is a clear indication the club is heading in the right direction.
"It doesn't swing on one game but I think winning today probably puts a bit of an exclamation mark on the improvement in the year," he said.
"It doesn't change the fact that we've played some really poor footy but I think seven wins is a pretty good result.
"We're clearly showing improvement - it's just about eradicating the really down patches we're having and our ability to play compete against the better sides."
It was something of a shame, however, that just 8974 fans were there to watch what was one of the better four-quarter efforts by Melbourne in the second half of the year.
Experienced hands Bernie Vince, Daniel Cross and Jones were important on the ball but got plenty of support from younger midfielders like Jack Viney and Christian Salem.
Jesse Hogan and Ben Newton each booted three goals, Max Gawn dominated the ruck with 55 hitouts and Tom McDonald had the better of his duel with Jeremy Cameron.
Cross, who reluctantly announced his retirement this week, put in an influential 25-possession performance, suggesting he can rightly feel disappointed the Demons decided against offering him a new contract.
His 249th and final game came to an early end, however, when he was stretchered off early in the last quarter after knocking himself out in a typically courageous marking attempt.
In an unusual move, Roos revealed that he asked Cross' former teammate at the Western Bulldogs, Matthew Boyd, to address his players before the game, with his inspirational speech a factor in the performance.
The Giants were disappointing after halftime but Callan Ward, Adam Treloar and Jacob Townsend worked hard throughout.
"Realistically, they probably dominated the game from the start to the finish," GWS coach Leon Cameron said.
"They just seemed a bit hungrier than us, then that flows into some good play and if you don't have that hunger it doesn't matter what you do."
Roos knows that even more will be expected from his side next year in his last season in charge and expects to add to his playing list during the coming free agency and trade periods.
"I think with where our list is at, how demanding the competition is and how free agency is changing the whole face of footy you have to be active," he said.
"I don't know what's going to happen but if some of the free agents end up at the better clubs you end up sliding back again. So we have to be active and we will be - what that looks like we'll wait and see."