There would be no Giant resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Instead Greater Western Sydney are left to sweat on the fitness of injured stars Stephen Coniglio [ankle], Phil Davis [calf] and Matt de Boer [hamstring] as their hunt for a breakthrough win goes on after being beaten by Melbourne to the tune of 34 points.
There would be no maiden triumph for a Giants outfit looking to break their duck in game three of their 2021 AFL campaign, no heroic homecoming to Canberra.
For it was the Melbourne Demons who prevailed as excitement machine Kysaiah Pickett booted four goals in a 15.12 (102) to 11.2 (68) win, countering Toby Greene's haul of five at Manuka Oval on Sunday night.
Now Giants coach Leon Cameron may begin to feel the heat as he waits on an injury update for a key trio, with midfielder Coniglio helped from the field with an ankle injury midway through the second term.
Coniglio grimaced as he was pulled down in a tackle by Melbourne's Tom Sparrow, with Giants medical staff soon confirming he would take no further part in the contest in a cruel blow.
Davis was pulled out of the game in the early going due to an ankle injury of his own, with Cameron injecting Nick Shipley in for his first game in 1066 days as an injury replacement player.
Then it was de Boer's night coming to a close midway through the third quarter with a hamstring injury. Cameron expects all three may be missing against Collingwood next week, with Coniglio's absence likely to see Greene elevated to the captaincy role.
"For every heartache and disappointment from a game you lose or you lose players, there is an opportunity," Cameron said.
"Some of the young kids stood up and played some really good, strong footy tonight against a really seasoned side like Melbourne who we really rate.
"[Jake] Riccardi is probably just about ready to resume again, Connor Stone is really pressing his case, Ryan Angwin, and that's just to name a few.
"With those three injuries, and you would think they're going to be out next week, three players have got to come in and guess what, they get a great opportunity at the MCG next Saturday night."
The Demons' triumph marks the first time the club has started a season with three consecutive wins since 2005 as fans dream of a charge deep into September.
The clash marked the AFL's first in Canberra since 2019 after the coronavirus pandemic forced the Giants to stay out of the capital last year for the first time since their inception.
The hosts started like they had something to prove to those in the stands who spent a year in football purgatory and jumped at their first chance to pull on the orange and charcoal again.
Max Gawn emerged as the focal point for the visitors' attacking raids but Giants spearhead Greene was the difference maker as he booted two goals in a five-minute stretch during the opening term.
The pressure the Demons had mounted on their rivals throughout two wins to start the season was almost non-existent in passive opening stages as the Giants took a 16-point lead into the first break.
But the visitors started the second with a bang. It was Luke Jackson who struck first, the third pick in the 2019 draft who is giving Melbourne fans a glimpse of something to be excited about for years to come.
Bayley Fritsch and Pickett stood up. The latter is a 19-year-old prospect who arrived with plenty of draft hype and has shown enough to suggest he may be the real deal.
"We've just witnessed throughout a round of footy how hard the AFL competition is. To win three games from three is a great start but we understand we need to keep improving," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said.
"This competition is relentless, and you've got to keep finding ways to improve. Our playing group are really committed to doing that. It's really important to get that confidence and belief in the way you play.
"The challenge is still there. We've won three games, we've got plenty of learning, plenty of improvements. This competition is really tough, you've got to maximise your momentum when you've got it and be really strong through your character as a footy club when you haven't got it."
Melbourne look to continue their unbeaten run when they face Geelong on Sunday.
AT A GLANCE
MELBOURNE DEMONS 2.3 6.5 10.7 15.12 (102)
GWS GIANTS 5.1 7.1 8.1 11.2 (68)
Melbourne goals: Kysaiah Pickett 4, Bayley Fritsch 3, Max Gawn 2, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Luke Jackson, Charlie Spargo, Angus Brayshaw, James Jordon.
GWS goals: Toby Greene 5, Josh Kelly 2, Jacob Hopper, Harry Himmelberg, Xavier O'Halloran, Tom Green.
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