Majak Daw took a significant step towards an AFL return when he got through North Melbourne's pre-season series defeat to the Western Bulldogs on Friday night.
But it was Brownlow Medal fancy Marcus Bontempelli who stole the show with a scintillating display to steer the Dogs to a 44-point win at Marvel Stadium.
Daw had not played a senior match since suffering serious hip and pelvis injuries when he fell from the Bolte Bridge 14 months ago.
The 28-year-old had a quiet night on return, but looms as a potentially valuable addition to the Kangaroos' back line.
"It was really pleasing to see him back," North coach Rhyce Shaw said.
"It's been a long time for him out of the game.
"I thought he did a couple of good things and worked his way into the game.
"He was under the pump there, they were peppering us a bit at stages, so he got a bit of work in."
North Melbourne defender Marley Williams could be the first player suspended in 2020 after his clumsy second-quarter bump caught Ed Richards high.
Richards was ruled out with concussion at half-time.
The Bulldogs suffered another injury blow pre-match when emerging star Aaron Naughton was sidelined with a right knee injury.
Replacement Lewis Young (three goals) took advantage of his late call-up as the Dogs' forward line was able to capitalise on midfield ascendancy in the 15.11 (101) to 9.3 (57) win.
It was led by new captain Bontempelli, who had 37 disposals, 10 clearances and eight tackles ahead of his appearance for Victoria in next week's bushfire relief match.
Bontempelli capped his performance two goals in the final term.
Lachie Hunter and Jack Macrae were busy in the engine room as Hayden Crozier, Jason Johannisen and new recruit Alex Keath provided rebound out of defence.
"Marcus was really outstanding and there were lots of great individual performances," Dogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
"Yes, it's a pre-season game, but they all count.
"We dropped our first two last year and it was important for the club to get off on a positive note and we did, so it's a positive outcome."
Two-game youngster Curtis Taylor provided a highlight for North with a huge grab over two opponents and a goal to finish during the third term.
Both sides were missing some big names that are expected to be available for round one.
Australian Associated Press