Melbourne win by 23 points
North unveiled their first ever premiership flag in front of a home crowd treated to free wine, 250 marching girls and a 50 piece RAAF band brought in just for the occassion but their celebrations were destroyed by a Demon side who stamped themselves as the big improvers of 1976 with a relatively painless victory over the reigning premiers at Arden Street.
The Kangaroos rode the emotion of unveiling their premiership flag to lead at the first change but after that it was all Melbourne. Half the side who had played in the winning Grand Final were missing but they still racked up the lowest score in the league that afternoon and ended the first round last.
Gary Hardeman, who so nearly left for South Australia during the off-season, dominated at centre-half back and was named best-on-ground with 24 touches, while Ray Biffin didn't have a goal kicked on him all day.
New recruits Craig McKellar (Richmond), Allan Davis and Shane Grambeau (St. Kilda) were all had positive debuts and McKellar was judged the best ruckman afield.
The Demons had beaten the second and third best teams of 1975 in the pre-season and had now taken the number one side's scalp. An overjoyed Bob Skilton said "The attitude of the players has changed, and they know now what is required to win games". A bookmaker alleged that Melbourne players had won significant amounts of money by betting on their own side while they were still rated a 5/1 chance.
Best were Hardeman, Flower and Coles, Baker (concussion) was replaced by Keays in the third quarter and Alves by Lyons in the last quarter.
North Melbourne 14.15 d. Melbourne 13.15
Goals - Guy 3, Mills 3, Johnston 2, Carroll 2, Giampalo 2, Walters 1
Best - Sullivan, Carroll, M. Alves
North Melbourne 16.24 d. Melbourne 6.20