Geelong started the day with an emphatic 63-point thrashing of Adelaide at Simonds Stadium before North Melbourne held off Gold Coast to win by 13 points at Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville.
Essendon finally turned out to play in Wangaratta but it was Richmond who won a thriller by eight points.
The Brisbane Lions then won a nail-biter over the Greater Western Sydney Giants by three points in Wagga Wagga before Carlton rounded out the day's action thumping Fremantle by 70 points at Etihad Stadium.
RICHMOND beat Essendon 2.8.20 (86) to 1.10.9 (78) in Wangaratta largely thanks to a late nine-point goal from ex-Melbourne forward Ricky Petterd.
The Tigers were without stars Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Ivan Maric, but had a host of others standing up including defender David Astbury who shut down Essendon key forward Michael Hurley.
Shane Tuck and Luke McGuane kicked two goals each for the Tigers with emerging defender Alex Rance terrific gathering 23 possessions and taking 11 marks.
Shaun Grigg showed that he's set for another strong season in his second year as a Tiger with 22 disposals while Tuck also gathered 20 possessions, Bachar Houli 19 against his former side and Matt White 15 and a goal.
Former Geelong big man Orren Stephenson did well in the ruck in the absence of Maric to finish with 14 possessions and 19 hit outs.
Essendon got to focus on some football rather than its off-field dramas and got to put last year's controversial non-appearance in Wangaratta to play St Kilda behind it as well.
Jobe Watson came in for his first hit out of 2013 and was solid with 15 possessions with Patrick Ryder kicking three goals up forward, and Brent Stanton and Hurley two apiece.
Mark Baguley gathered 21 possessions and took 11 marks with Brendon Goddard doing well as he gears up for his first season with Essendon with 22 disposals.
Stanton, Stewart Crameri, Dyson Heppell, Jake Carlisle and Michael Hibberd also had plenty of the ball while rookie Nick Kommer was a shining light for coach James Hird.
GEELONG was on fire early at home to Adelaide leading by 42 points already by quarter-time before going on to record a 2.16.12 (126) to 1.8.6 (63) victory.
Even more concerning than the actual score for the Crows was the fact that they were near full-strength while the Cats were missing Joel Selwood, Steve Johnson, Tom Hawkins, Joel Corey and Tom Hawkins with triple-premiership veteran Paul Chapman reduced to a limited role.
Young key forward Shane Kersten kicked three goals for Geelong with Jimmy Bartel, Billie Smedts, Mitch Duncan and Jordan Murdoch all chipping in with two each.
Bartel might not have been wearing his famous No. 3 because it still does not fit him, but in the No. 17 jumper he picked up 28 possessions while defender Harry Taylor had 31, James Kelly 25, Andrew Mackie 23, Taylor Hunt 21, Corey Enright 20 and recruit from Melbourne Jared Rivers 20.
Another shining light for Geelong was the performance of former steeplechaser Mark Blicavs who held down the ruck in the absence of Trent West, Hamish McIntosh and Dawson Simpson. Blicavs had eight possessions, 14 hit outs, laid four tackles and kicked a goal.
There was little to crow about for Adelaide but Patrick Dangerfield was its best with 31 possessions and three goals. Richard Douglas, Nathan van Berlo, Bernie Vince, Scott Thompson, Matthew Wright and Shaun McKernan worked hard.
NORTH Melbourne beat Gold Coast by 13 points in Townsville, but the Kangaroos would have been disappointed in the final quarter after leading by 47 points at the last change.
Tony Ireland Stadium has hosted a state-league clash between the QAFL and WAFL previously in 2008, but it was the first AFL game to play at the impressive multi-million dollar facility and it was a juggling act for both sides to survive 40-degree temperatures.
The Kangaroos dominated the first three quarters with two nine-pointers and 12 regular goals to lead by 47 points at three quarter-time before winning 2.13.6 (102) to 1.11.14 (89).
Jordan Gysberts and Robbie Tarrant kicked super goals for North Melbourne with Aaron Black and Lindsay Thomas booting three six-pointers each.
Sam Gibson gathered a game-high 23 possessions with Aaron Mullett picking up 18 disposals, Ryan Bastinac 17 and Jack Ziebell 16.
David Swallow was the best for the Suns with 20 possessions and two goals with Harley Bennell gathering 19 disposals and Jarrod Harbrow 19. Campbell Brown kicked two goals.
SAM Michael kicked the winning goal in Wagga for the Brisbane Lions against the GWS Giants.
In a see-sawing battle, Brisbane eventually triumphed 1.12.19 (100) to 2.12.7 (97) largely on the back of five goals from Aaron Cornelius in the absence of captain Jonathon Brown.
Patrick Karnezis was also terrific for the Lions with 26 possessions and a goal with Claye Beams gathering 21 disposals, Jack Redden 20, Jed Adcock 17 and Dayne Zorko 17 to go with a super goal.
Jeremy Cameron and Devon Smith both kicked nine-pointers for the Giants with Adam Treloar picking up 21 touches to go with two goals. Callan Ward had 20 disposals, Toby Greene 19, Stephen Coniglio 18 and Lachie Whitfield 17.
Ruckman Jonathan Giles had a big game with 16 possessions, five marks, 19 hit outs and two goals.
THE big day of AFL action then ended at Etihad Stadium with Carlton thumping Fremantle 0.18.16 (124) to 1.6.9 (54) to continue Mick Malthouse's impressive opening as coach of the Blues.
Carlton was dominant virtually from the outset but still has Chris Judd, Jarrad Waite, Brock McLean, Heath Scotland and Shaun Hampson to come back into the side.
Fremantle was also missing Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands, Michael Barlow, Chris Mayne and Alex Silvagni.
Eddie Betts kicked four goals for the Blues with Jeff Garlett adding three and two each to dominant midfielders Mitch Robinson and Bryce Gibbs. Robinson also picked up 26 possessions and Gibbs 22.
Marc Murphy had 21 disposals, Chris Yarran 21, Kane Lucas 20 and Andrew Carrazzo 19.
Matthew Kreuzer showed good signs in the ruck with 12 possessions, 22 hit outs and a goal.
There was little to write home about for Fremantle with Matt de Boer and David Mundy kicking two goals each, and Paul Duffield gathering 21 possessions, Clancee Pearce 20, Lee Spurr 20 and Danyle Pearce 17.