FOLLOWING four rounds punctuated by stodgy ball movement and difficulty scoring, Collingwood broke the shackles on Thursday night.

The 62-point trouncing of shell-shocked Brisbane in front of a packed Gabba was more like the free-flowing Magpies that stormed to within a kick of a premiership in 2018.

And it reminded the competition they would again be a premiership favourite in 2019.

PIES HIT TOP GEAR Full match coverage and stats

Collingwood completely dominated Brisbane’s up-and-coming midfield and their forward line ran amok.

Disposals (+55), inside 50s (+20) and contested possessions (+16) were all one-sided, but the most jaw-dropping number was the marks inside 50.

Collingwood had a whopping 25 – easily the most of any team in the AFL this season.

TAGGING TAKES A TURN Collingwood finds a new way to stop opposition stars

And the damage came from a variety of sources.

In just his 21st career game, Brody Mihocek kicked four goals, but that told only half the story, as he ran relentless for four quarters to also tally 18 disposals, eight marks and two goal assists.

The Magpies forced Brisbane into turnovers, rebounded quickly and found acres and acres of space against a Lions defensive unit that was left clutching at air.

They were too quick, too smart and too good in the air.

Jaidyn Stephenson was slick on the lead, taking seven marks inside 50 and finishing with 2.1 and an assist.

Jordan de Goey floated in-and-out of the match as he pleased, outpointing Luke Hodge to mark in the goalsquare for the game’s opening goal and finishing with three majors and a centre clearance that led directly to another.

Jamie Elliott, Mason Cox, Callum Brown and Josh Thomas all kicked two goals and all took multiple marks inside 50.

It was a show of power, depth and versatility that sent a graphic message to Chris Fagan’s men they have a long way to go to progress from competitive to contender.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said his team had been learning to deal with its own high expectations and was slowly starting to regain its best form.

“Our ball use was a little slicker and I think we’ve been building on that as we’ve gone through the year,” Buckley said post-match.

“We had a grinding win against the Bulldogs last week, but there wasn’t a lot of elation because we’re expecting more.

“Our offence is coming along, our defence is coming along and our contested ball work, we just need to make sure we’re working on all phases of the game.

“Our offence took another step up again today and that helps you to defend when you get the ball deep inside your forward 50, you can defend off the back of that.”

WATCH Nathan Buckley’s full post-match media conference

Before Thursday night’s game the Magpies were averaging 81 points a game and ranked mid-pack for points scored.

Aside from the highly impressive round two death-by-a-thousand-cuts win over Richmond, they’d been patchy through the opening month.

But with 13 players racking up 18 disposals or more and all seven forwards kicking multiple goals, it was as even a team performance as a coach could hope for.

And to think Will Hoskin-Elliott has to fit in at some stage.

Brisbane won’t be the toughest hurdle the Magpies face, but Buckley couldn’t ask for much more from an interstate trip in front of a packed house against a 3-1 team.

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