BACK-to-back tests against Ballarat Netball League benchmarks started with a 17-goal defeat for Melton away at East Point on Saturday.
Imposing East Point goaler Catherine Maika and Melton's struggles to move the ball through mid-court were the main factors in the 48-31 defeat.
The situation arguably gets tougher for Melton this weekend as it faces Lake Wendouree.
Bloods playing coach Krista Woodroffe said the signs were there on Saturday that the gap to East Point could be closed.
"We struggled with bringing the ball through the centre court quite a lot. A lot of pressure on [East Point's] part, but also silly mistakes on our part," she said.
"The movement in the ring wasn't the best. In the past two weeks we've struggled with accuracy and movement. But they did shoot well to keep us within [the margin].
"It was a pretty consistent three or four advantage for East Point in the first half. They got away at the end of the third quarter."
Amy Conroy had to leave the game with knee trouble in the third quarter and already defender Jaclyn Verbeek's unavailability had meant Bgrade regular Ashlee Tattersall was given a demanding task to step up and defend against the East Point goalers.
"She did an awesome job," Woodroffe said. "[Lake Wendouree] will be the best team in the league this year. Hopefully we can keep within a 10-goal margin of them and go from there." Elsewhere, Bacchus Marsh proved too strong for Melton South with a 45-goal win, while Darley limited Sunbury's avenues to the ring and won by 33.
East Point 48 (Catherine Maika 34) d Melton 31 (Tegan Gardam 19), Melton South 30 lt Bacchus Marsh 75, Redan 33 lt Lake Wendouree 58, Ballarat 50 d North Ballarat 28, Darley 49 (Elyce Carlyle 26, Sarah Thompson 23) d Sunbury 16.