It was always going to be a tough year for Melton with the unique challenges it faced.
The A Grade group was not united for the first time until a practice match on the eve of the season.
There were few times the team was able to train as a unit, owing to its stars' VNL commitments.
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For that reason alone, new coach Ros Baker knew this season would be a game-by-game proposition.
An opening-round loss to crosstown rivals Melton South tempered the excitement of netball's return before a gutsy win against 2019 minor premier Sunbury, reinstated belief.
Then the slide began.
A tough day out against Sebastopol wasn't unexpected, but a subsequent five-goal loss to Darley opened the wound before a best-forgotten outing against East Point plunged the knife deeper.
At 1-5, Melton's season reached a turning point. Recognising the occasion, the Bloods put on their best performance for the season.
A 38-goal, 91 per cent Uneeq Palavi showing was the push Melton needed to get past finalists Redan, 53-45.
What followed was a uniquely 2021 problem, the first of the season's COVID interruptions dousing any momentum.
Melton had to one week longer to return by virtue of the bye and couldn't upset minor premiers North Ballarat when they did get back on the court.
A round nine win against Ballarat kept slender finals hopes alive, before a misstep against Lake Wendouree sent the Bloods into the second COVID break, with September dreams fading.
No side knew it would be their last game, but a triumph against Bacchus Marsh on the last day of the season was a perfect reminder of the joy of community sport's return for a team that had to do it tough.