Collingwood looks to be seriously considering inserting Jordan De Goey into the midfield in Adam Treloar's probable round one absence.
A hamstring injury is almost certain to sideline Treloar from the Magpies' season opener, with coach Nathan Buckley using his Marsh Community Series finale against St Kilda on Sunday to trial De Goey in the centre.
The Saints twice came from behind to edge out Collingwood 10.8 (68) to 9.3 (57) at Morwell Recreation Reserve, after conceding four of the first five goals and again falling behind in the final term.
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It helped St Kilda's cause that Buckley pulled Taylor Adams (hip), skipper Scott Pendlebury and key defender Darcy Moore from the contest early.
De Goey has spent most of his AFL career to date as a forward but has proven on occasion he has the ability to be an impact player in the midfield.
The soon-to-be 24-year-old won 16 of his 18 disposals in the first three quarters playing in the middle, where he was one of the more effective players on the ground.
The Saints began to wrest control from the Pies as early as the second term and consecutive Jack Lonie goals gave Brett Ratten's team the lead at three-quarter time.
After a quiet first half, Lonie finished with four majors – after he kicked four against Hawthorn in St Kilda's first Marsh game a fortnight ago – to ensure they went two from two in the pre-season.
Even more impressive was new defender Ben Long (24, seven marks), who as good as locked up his round one spot with an excellent display.
Shane Savage played all 22 games for the Saints last season but was left out of the club's final season tune-up – and Long might be the chief beneficiary.
Long, the nephew of Michael Long and cousin of Cyril Rioli, repeatedly cut off Collingwood's forward forays and finished with nine intercept possessions, while tidy ball use has always been part of his arsenal.
Ratten would also be thrilled with high-priced recruit Bradley Hill, who amassed 28 disposals and a game-high eight score involvements.
Another newcomer, Dougal Howard (16, 10 intercept possessions), held Mason Cox to seven touches, while new goalsneak Dan Butler added a pair of goals.
The other big positive for St Kilda was top-10 draft pick Max King, whose aerial prowess was on show, although some wayward kicking dampened his afternoon.
Steele Sidebottom (25, two goals) and Jeremy Howe (25, 11 marks) were arguably the Magpies' best but usual suspects Jack Crisp (23), Chris Mayne (27), Pendlebury (19) and Moore (20) were prominent.
Collingwood also gave Jamie Elliott (20, one goal) and Tyler Brown more midfield opportunities but it was a quiet return for Jaidyn Stephenson.
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Collingwood: The main ones are midfielder Adam Treloar (hamstring) and Dayne Beams (mental health), with Treloar unlikely to be ready for round one and Beams out indefinitely. Among the fringe Pies on the sidelines are Tom Langdon (knee), Levi Greenwood (knee), Travis Varcoe (shoulder), Ben Reid (leg) and Isaac Quaynor (hip). Ruck recruit Darcy Cameron wasn't named.
St Kilda: The Saints opted to manage guns Seb Ross and Jade Gresham, who were late withdrawals from the game. Defenders Jake Carlisle (managed) and Jimmy Webster (shoulder) also sat out, while Shane Savage was left out after playing all 22 games last year.
St Kilda: There was lots to like in this regard for the Saints. Bradley Hill and Dougal Howard, in particular, shone but Zak Jones added grunt to the midfield, Paddy Ryder held his own in the ruck against Brodie Grundy, and Dan Butler kicked a couple of goals.
Collingwood will open the season against the Western Bulldogs under the Friday night lights at Marvel Stadium on March 20, while St Kilda takes on North Melbourne at the same venue two days later.
COLLINGWOOD 3.2 5.2 6.2 9.3 (57)
ST KILDA 1.1 3.4 6.7 10.8 (68)
Collingwood: Sidebottom 2, Elliott, De Goey, Adams, Daicos, Mihocek, T.Phillips, Stephenson
St Kilda: Lonie 4, Butler 2, King, Steele, Hannebery, Membrey
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Howe, Mayne, Crisp, De Goey, Moore
St Kilda: Hill, Long, Steele, Lonie, Howard, Dunstan
Collingwood: Adams (hip)
St Kilda: Ross (managed) and Gresham (managed) replaced in selected side by Ed Phillips and Battle
Umpires: O'Gorman, Brown, Meredith
Official crowd: TBC at Morwell Recreation Reserve