What we learnt: Mason Cox doesn't shy away from the bright lights

MELBOURNE, Australia -- A ferocious and energetic Collingwood outfit has staked their claim for a top four finish after thrashing Melbourne by 42 points on Queen's birthday.

In front of 83,518 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Magpies came out firing with a five goal to one opening term that forced the Dees to play catch up for the remainder of the game before the margin blew out in a dominant final quarter.

Mason Cox proved to be the shock hero for Collingwood by booting five goals en route to the Neale Daniher Trophy for best afield - something which was offering up tantalising odds of 100/1 before the first bounce.

Here's three things we learnt from the game...

Mason Cox loves the big stage

Remember when Mason Cox burst onto the AFL scene in the 2016 Anzac Day clash by booting the opening goal of the game? Okay, 'burst' may be a little bit of an exaggeration but there's no denying that he announced himself to the football world.

Well, once again the American big-man proved he's a natural on the grand stage by turning in his best performance on the football field.

Just as he did on Anzac Day two years ago, Cox kicked the opening goal of the game after taking a comfortable lead-up mark inside 50. Minutes later he clunked a sensational contested mark on the wing before returning to the forward line, roving and snapping his second goal from 40m out. His superb first quarter was a major factor in Collingwood skipping out to a handy 23 point lead at the first change, one Melbourne could never fully close.

In the third quarter Cox kicked another two goals, including a conversion of a set shot from deep in the forward pocket that once again gave the Magpies the ascendancy.

He finished the day with a heap of career bests, namely in goals (5), disposals (16) and marks (8) in a game that could be looked back on as the one that really spring-boarded his career.

Cox is unlikely to ever be the league's best forward but for Nathan Buckley and Collingwood fans it would be nice to know that should they go deep in September, the big fella certainly won't be overawed by the occasion.

De Goey as valuable in the midfield

At the beginning of the season Jordan de Goey would have been a fair way down the pecking order in terms of Collingwood's best and most important players but after 12 weeks of breathtaking football the 22-year-old has elevated himself to arguably top spot.

Not only is de Goey a proven star in the forward line but on Monday afternoon he demonstrated all his class in the middle of the ground. De Goey was a cut above any other player in the first half, where he amassed a staggering 21 disposals and 10 inside 50s before once again being deployed into the forward line.

De Goey was destroying Melbourne with ball in hand but also led the way for Collingwood in the pressure department by laying a team high seven tackles.

After Collingwood's win over the Western Bulldogs last week we said Nathan Buckley would need to find the right balance of where best to play his young star. At the moment it looks as though he's found it.

Gawn not a lock for All-Australian selection

Heading into this game all the talk was around the epic ruck duel between Melbourne's Max Gawn and Collingwood's Brodie Grundy.

One of these two stars is all but certain to be named the All-Australian ruckman come season's end and with it really being the first time they had gone head-to-head at full fitness there was plenty of intrigue.

After four quarters we're still no closer to learning who the competition's best ruckman is but one thing is certain, Gawn is no shoe-in for All-Australian selection.

Monday afternoon saw something of a role reversal with Grundy leading Gawn in total hitouts (38-33) while it was Gawn who managed to find more of the ball (17-13 in disposals).

Gawn was able to boot a goal, albeit in a losing cause, but what set Grundy apart was his pressure around the ball. The Magpies' ruckman laid seven tackles to Gawn's one and probably gets the points this time around.