North Melbourne has fallen short by a solitary point, in an encouraging performance against Brisbane on Saturday.
The late withdrawal of Robbie Tarrant to a calf injury meant the Roos went into the game with 11 players aged 23 or younger, and 11 with less than 30 games to their name.
Against one of the premiership favourites, the Lions, North fought hard all day and took it right up to its more fancied opponents.
Jed Anderson was fantastic through the midfield, racking up 29 disposals, eight clearances and six big tackles, while Jy Simpkin had 26 and eight tackles.
Luke McDonald continued his outstanding form with another 24 touches, while Todd Goldstein finished with 18 and 24 hit-outs.
But it was the Roos' younger brigade who provided plenty of reason for excitement; Luke Davies-Uniacke finishing with a classy 15 disposals, Jack Mahony taking another step forward and Bailey Scott and Tom Murphy showing positive signs.
Brisbane broke out to an 18-point lead early in the final term and the game looked beyond doubt, but the Roos fought to the finish, with Cam Zurhaar's goal after the siren reducing the margin to a point.
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.3 3.3 4.3 8.4 (52)
BRISBANE 1.5 3.6 5.9 7.11 (53)
North Melbourne: Larkey 2, Xerri 2, Zurhaar 2, Scott, Murphy
Brisbane: McCarthy 2, McInerney 2, McStay, Hipwood, Bailey
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Goldstein, Anderson, McDonald, Higgins
Brisbane: Lyons, Zorko, Neale, McInerney, Birchall, Bailey
North Melbourne: Walker (hamstring), Tarrant (calf) replaced in selected side by Xerri