TULLAMARINE belted Taylors Lakes to show its credentials as a division 1 contender with a 53-point win in Essendon District Football League on Saturday.
The Demons led 80 to eight at half-time after playing football a class above the 2010 premier in the 19.12 (126) to 11.7 (73).
Airport West and West Coburg remain the pacesetters for the division 1 top four as the two remaining unbeaten teams, while Tullamarine joined a group of five teams tied on two wins and one loss.
Taylors Lakes, however, fell behind the count to one-and-two in a display poles apart from the performances that won the Lions their first premiership and promotion two years ago.
The game was not spiteful but isolated incidents were, as Taylors Lakes' Glenn Manton was sent off for being reported twice by the five-minute mark of the second quarter, while Tullamarine's John Tate also went into the book on a striking charge.
Tullamarine's Jonathan Hardman was taken to hospital with a suspected concussion and head injury after being taken out in a marking contest by Manton in the incident that earned the latter his second-report marching orders.
But the reports failed to derail the game, which descended largely into junk time after the long break.
Steve Neilson showed a keen eye for goal with four majors in the first three quarters, while Cameron Hare booted three for Tullamarine and David Scott was best afield rucking all afternoon.
Mark Xuereb had a purple patch in the third quarter to kick three goals for Taylors Lakes, while midfielder Rick Asciak and onballers Ben Hutchinson and Nathan Taylor fought hardest in the Lions' defeat.
"It's disappointing ... a young fella [Hardman] putting his body on the line and it's a pretty low act really, running 20 meters straight into the back of him. Hopefully, he's OK and no long-term damage," Tullamarine coach Ash Manning said.
Manning said it was a credit his side didn't take a backward step when the match got physical but did acknowledge that one of his players also got reported.
"A few sides think we're a bit vulnerable in that way so it's important that we went out and made an effort to recruit some senior experience, guys who have played in A grade flags, give us a harder edge.
"We have a lot of young guys and a lot of smaller types and get buffeted around a bit.
"We've been working hard at training on tackling but it's an area of the game we need to improve on."
Around the grounds, Glenroy made a statement by shooting to a five-goal quarter-time lead against East Keilor and kicking away to a 16.15 (111) to 8.16 (64) win.
* Roxburgh Park led Moonee Valley by seven points at the last change but kicked just one more goal for the day as it lost 14.8 (92) to 12.5 (77) to remain one of two winless teams in division 1.
* Pascoe Vale led at every change against Craigieburn to win by 39 points and send the Eagles into a battle of winless teams against Essendon Doutta Stars this weekend.
* Greenvale shook off Keilor after scores were level at quarter-time to win by 92 points.