Simon Goodwin has hailed Steven May's "calming influence" on Melbourne after the star defender returned to help the reigning premiers snap a three-match AFL losing streak.
May returned in the 64-point thumping of Brisbane on Thursday night, blunting Lions spearhead Joe Daniher as the Demons reclaimed top spot on the ladder.
But it was the All-Australian back-man's influence on his teammates that most impressed Goodwin.
Jake Lever claimed a game-high 15 intercepts and Harrison Petty stood tall as the Demons held Brisbane to their lowest score of the season.
"(May) brings a calming influence to our team," Goodwin said.
"You get those three guys operating well together, along with Michael Hibberd, and you've got a pretty good foursome down there that can (handle) most tall forward lines."
May's absence was a telling factor in Melbourne's mid-season slump.
He was concussed early in the round 11 defeat to Fremantle, missed the loss to Sydney and was serving a club-imposed suspension when the Demons fell to Collingwood.
The ban came after the now-infamous restaurant fight with teammate Jake Melksham.
"He's made a mistake, he's owned up to it and put the things in place that he needs to," Goodwin said.
"But first and foremost we need him playing his best footy and we started to see a step forward in that tonight."
The May-Melksham brawl intensified criticism on Melbourne amid the three-match losing skid, which came on the back of a club-record winning run.
Goodwin said the ability to block out external noise - both negative and positive - had been a key focus in recent seasons.
"If we can keep that level of consistency within our club we're more chance of continuing to build momentum or you stop yourself from going into your shell," Goodwin said.
"The players have done a great job with that over a long period of time now.
"This started a few years ago for us when everyone was writing us off as a footy club and we were able to put the noise behind us then.
"It's the same now. Nothing's changed."
Australian Associated Press
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