This was game number two in a 153-game season likely to gather as much momentum in the first six months of the year as a broken-down car.
But if runs on the board are important before the storm hits and proceedings are interrupted then the Magpies have done everything they could to make the best of the circumstances and established themselves as contenders in a shortened season.
By contrast the Bulldogs have given everyone something to talk about this week as we ask ourselves whether they believed their own hype heading into the season, although the circumstances will make most more forgiving of those playing than they otherwise would be.
Funnily enough for a team that regularly plays in front of large crowds and never trains without onlookers the Magpies adjusted more quickly to the surreal conditions than their opponents.
They were dominant in all but five minutes of the first half, jumping out to an eight-goal lead when they kicked eight of the first nine goals. They continued in the second half to keep the Bulldogs a comfortable distance away and ran out 52-point winners.
Collingwood’s game was old-fashioned and brutally effective as they won the clearance and kicked long to the top of the square, where forwards Jordan De Goey or Mason Cox either created a contest or marked.
The Bulldogs looked too big and slow everywhere around the ground except in defence where they looked too small, with Alex Keath a one-man band in defence.
Poor Keath must have felt like he had returned to the Sheffield Shield with no one in the stands and a barrage of quick balls coming at him that he couldn’t defend. Easton Wood was unable to help while Tim English was finding that the step from promising to dominating was still wider than he could manage.
Brodie Grundy used the match-up as motivation and it worked as he found front position at boundary throw-ins and jumped all over English at the centre bounces to give his skipper Scott Pendlebury and midfielder Taylor Adams first use of the football. Grundy was best on ground and showed why he has been All-Australian in the past two seasons.
Their aggression at the contest was such that the Magpies had 24 of the first 26 inside 50s for the match. The result was decided before the half-time break.
The Bulldogs rallied late with the final three goals of the first half, including one to Ben Cavarra on debut but it was their only yelp, with Marcus Bontempelli surprisingly quiet.
At that point all protocols were abandoned as Cavarra’s teammates jumped all over him in celebration and his family rightfully showed their excitement in a corporate box behind the goals.
Aaron Naughton played after having his pre-season interrupted with a knee operation just before the Marsh Series but he was ineffective, while Brodie Mihocek was outstanding for the Magpies up the other end coming off his preliminary final horror to kick three goals in the second and third quarters.
On Friday players were told not to high five, hug, share water bottles or shake hands – and they tried. Jamie Elliott did an Irish jig, touching toes with Grundy, after kicking the first goal. Elbows were touched coming on and off the ground. Occasionally old habits emerged and players hugged but they were minor transgressions in a week when adjustments are being made at a rapid rate.
Collingwood sang the club song after the game without touching in a rendition memorable for what is soon to be a familiar absurdity.
The great Gavin Brown was given permission to attend Marvel Stadium to watch his two boys play and they did not let him down, with Tyler showing his class and twinkly toes at times in the middle while Callum kicked a great goal in the opening quarter.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.