St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt was carried off on a stretcher after hurting his right knee late in their 30-point AFL round one loss to Melbourne.
Riewoldt hyperextended the knee in a marking contest and play was held up for several minutes as he was taken from the ground in the Saturday twilight match at Etihad Stadium.
It capped a bad start to the season for the Saints, with the Demons rallying to win 18.12 (120) to 13.12 (90).
Melbourne snapped a 14-game losing streak against St Kilda and it was their first win over the Saints since the 2006 elimination final.
Riewoldt had kicked four goals and was among the Saints’ best.
The 34-year-old gave up the captaincy this year, after 11 seasons in the role, with Jarryn Geary succeeding him.
The Demons had a wobbly start, trailling by 24 points early in the second quarter but they wrested control with a 10-goal run.
Ruckman Max Gawn was outstanding with 49 hitouts, while midfielders Clayton Oliver, Jordan Lewis and Nathan Jones all shone.
Jesse Hogan and Jeff Garlett kicked three goals apiece for Melbourne.
Apart from Riewoldt’s potentially-serious injury, there was bad news for St Kilda before the first bounce when key forward Paddy McCartin was a late withdrawal with hamstring tightness.
Riewoldt topped a run of injuries during the match, with Melbourne first-gamer Joel Smith suffering a dislocated shoulder just 17 minutes into the opening quarter.
Gawn was able to keep playing after needing treatment for back spasms, while Nathan Wright also spent time off the ground because of a head knock.
Unusually, St Kilda did not run out onto the ground until two minutes before the opening bounce.
But they hit the ground running, with Jack Billings kicking the first goal after a minute.
The Saints looked ready to take control of the match when Riewoldt kicked the first goal of the second term.
But debutant Mitch Hannan kicked the first goal of his AFL career two minutes later to spark the Demons’ 10-goal onslaught.
Led by Gawn, Jones and Lewis, the Demons gradually took control of the midfield and Oliver flourished.
Melbourne hit the lead for the first time midway through the second quarter and led by eight points at the main break.
The Demons kicked six goals to two in the third term for a 34-point lead at the last break and when Hogan kicked his third goal at the start of the final term, the lead was a decisive 42 points.
In addition to Riewoldt, Geary and small forward Jade Gresham (three goals) were the Saints’ best in a below-par start to the season.