Geelong's superstar trio performed as fans had hoped but coach Chris Scott lamented an uneven performance after the Cats suffered a gut-wrenching one-point loss to Hawthorn.
Amid much fanfare, superstars Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood played together for the first time on Easter Monday.
But a four-quarter team effort from Alastair Clarkson's men saw them hang on for a heart-stopping 17.16 (118) to 18.9 (117) win in front of 73,189 fans at the MCG.
"I thought they were pretty good but there are areas where we'd like to improve," Scott said of his star threesome.
"Way too much is made, in my view, of the individuals, (Tom) Mitchell for the opposition as well. I think the smartest way to go about it is to look at the way the collective is going against the other.
"I think those three guys as individuals played pretty well but we were minus 21 inside 50s at three-quarter time so all is not well.
"We've got some things to think about."
The enthralling battle proved a thrilling climax to an entertaining round two of the AFL season.
Greater Western Sydney sit atop the ladder as one of four unbeaten teams after they survived a brave challenge from Collingwood to score a 15.5 (95) to 12.7 (79) win at the MCG on Saturday.
The Pies lost Tim Broomhead to a broken leg and the Giants lost Tom Scully to a fractured ankle in a brutal first quarter.
Port Adelaide are second after they came from behind to upset Sydney - 14.10 (94) to 10.11 (71) - at the SCG on Sunday.
Power midfielder Ollie Wines starred with 35 possessions and a goal.
Surprise packets Gold Coast are third after they rode an eight-goal effort from co-captain Tom Lynch to a 15.11 (101) to 9.13 (67) win at Etihad Stadium.
The unbeaten Hawks round out the top four, with Tom Mitchell backing up last week's 54-possession performance with a best-on-ground 40-disposal, two-goal effort.
West Coast scored their first win of the season without coach Adam Simpson, who left Melbourne to be with his sick daughter on Sunday morning.
The slick Eagles plunged the winless Western Bulldogs' season into crisis with a 18.13 (121) to 9.16 (70) win at Etihad Stadium.
Fremantle scored the first win at Perth's new Optus Stadium - and their first of the season - when they upset Essendon 16.10 (106) to 14.6 (90) on Saturday night.
Melbourne survived a late scare from the Brisbane Lions to break through for their first win of the 2018 campaign - 14.16 (100) to 10.14 (74) - at the Gabba.
St Kilda made a mess of their first-ever Good Friday appearance, with unfancied North Melbourne recording a 13.17 (95) to 5.13 (43) win at Etihad Stadium.
The grand final rematch kicked off the round on Thursday night, with Adelaide turning the tables on Richmond in an 18.10 (118) to 12.10 (82) win at Adelaide Oval.