Melbourne will be without experienced midfielder Angus Brayshaw for their sudden-death semi-final but coach Simon Goodwin remains optimistic his side can bounce back from a frustrating defeat to Collingwood.
The Demons are staring down the barrel of an unwarranted second-consecutive straight-sets finals exit after losing to the Magpies by seven points - 9.6 (60) to 7.11 (53) - on Thursday night.
In a low-scoring slog, Melbourne dominated inside-50s 69-37, but their finishing was wasteful as they lost their third-straight finals match since winning the 2021 premiership.
Melbourne will take on Carlton or Sydney in next Friday night's semi-final without Brayshaw, who was knocked out during a dramatic first quarter.
Collingwood vice-captain Brayden Maynard jumped forward in an attempted smother and collected Brayshaw high with his shoulder as tensions boiled over between the two teams just 10 minutes in.
Brayshaw left the MCG on a stretcher and with his neck in a brace, placing him under the mandatory 12-day concussion protocols.
The 27-year-old has worn a helmet since he suffered four concussions in the space of 12 months, leading him to take an extended break from the game in 2017.
"He's upset," Goodwin said.
"He's had a history with concussion a long time ago so he's dealing with some emotion there.
"But he wants to play finals footy. He's going to be missing for a few weeks and it's disappointing."
Melbourne star Christian Petracca said on Friday Brayshaw's condition had improved.
"He was pretty rattled last night after the game, and his condition wasn’t great. The medical staff did a good job. He was in a bad way on the ground," Petracca told KISS 101.1.
“It was more so the position with his neck they were worried about. They couldn’t actually move his body because they might cause more damage.
“I might go see him tonight for dinner or try to drop something over, he is one of my close mates and it was really devastating to see him on the ground like that.”
Goodwin was left disappointed by Melbourne's start, with a deficit of 20 points at the end of the first quarter flattering the Demons after Collingwood sharpshooter Jamie Elliott missed two gettable chances.
But despite Melbourne's early stutters, Goodwin said he retained "a lot of optimism" for the finals.
"We played the right way for a big part of that game," he said.
"To dominate territory, dominate inside 50, to win the contest by 15 by the end of the game, that's a pretty big turnaround.
"That gives us a lot of heart because that is what stands up and wins you finals footy."