No-one expected North Hobart to be three points up 21 minutes into the final quarter at UTAS Stadium.
Probably not even North Hobart star Colin Garland, who had just kicked his seventh goal to give the Demons the lead for the first time since the second term.
It took the experience of Bart McCulloch and Dakota Bannister to kick match-winning goals in the final minutes for North Launceston to avoid the upset of the season and win to 12.10 (82) to 11.5 (71).
"We didn't play to the standard that we set last week but it's a different scenario that we haven't been in," Northern Bombers coach Taylor Whitford said.
"We were a couple of points down with five or so minutes or go and needed to produce so I guess you can look at it that way that it gives us a chance to gameplay train a scenario like that.
"It's a different look to the last few weeks so I guess we've got to take that positive out of it."
Winless and conceding a 465-point margin to North in 2018, the Demons ran onto the field with seven players wearing numbers between 45 and 66, and their odds of winning looked equally as high when Liam Davies goaled inside the first 30 seconds.
But despite early midfield dominance from Whitford, Josh Ponting and Brad Cox-Goodyer, the Demons were never out of the game.
Even two goals from Cox-Goodyer late in the third term and a 21-point three-quarter time deficit couldn't discourage a Demons side riding high on the menacing form of Garland, who had not played TSL since round one.
The Melbourne 141-gamer plied his trade with the authority of a school teacher, marking everything that was given to him and setting his opponents homework on aerial contests.
"We probably knew he was going to be [impressive]," Whitford said.
"We had 10 contests in the first half - Connor [Young] won seven and Col' won three and kicked three goals so he took his chances.
"I think the supply coming down from their midfield was too good - we let it out of the midfield too easily and left our backs a little bit one-on-one which can be a scary proposition with Colin up there."
While Garland ruled at one end, the Bombers shared the goals at the other with Cox-Goodyer, Sherrin Egger and Bart McCulloch all finishing with two.
Pocket rocket Jack Rushton played his best game for the year as North Launceston finished the first round of fixtures top of the table.
"Sitting at the top of the ladder ... we probably internally don't see our form that way but I guess it's a better position to be there than not," Whitford said.
"To get through everyone and be 5-1, it's a good effort from the group."
In the other day game, Glenorchy bounced back from a big loss last week to end Lauderdale's unbeaten run, winning 11.8 (74) to 9.9 (63).
Elsewhere, Tigers jumped into fifth spot with a 16.15 (111) to 10.10 (70) victory over Clarence under lights.