Posted this on March 17, but given the number of times I have had to refer to it in the last month I thought I may as well post it here for easy reference:
The Demons have several problems. A couple, which you mention, are the transition and the youth/experience. The Dees' footy department have taken a major gamble by letting Bruce & McDonald go. They are banking on the young blokes coming through with an eye to next year (not 2011), but if Melbourne struggle to get their hands on the footy this season this will be held up as a root cause and the natives will get mighty restless. With that in mind it has been interseting to see Bailey & Schwab quietly massage Melbourne fans' expectations downwards. Another issue, which Gerard Healy & Mark Stevens mentioned, is the ability of good sides to pick apart the Demon defence. The way Essendon did it is similar to what Geelong (both with Thompson in the coaches box; and now three weeks ago with Sean Wellman providing inside oil) used to do: that is, spot up short targets in space just inside the 50, which is similar to a basketball team opening up the keyway by hitting threes. Draw opponents up the ground and you open spaces in behind.
My personal concern is size & aggression. Ever since John Northey left Melbourne have played "pretty" footy when they are on, but have not looked like winning when they are off. Why are they off? Because opposition coaches man up on Melbourne and force them into mistakes. Melbourne have barely won a match in the last 19 seasons where the other side has also played well. This is because Melbourne have lacked grunt under Bailey, Daniher, Balme & the two stand-in coaches. Until Melbourne realise that footy is about big blokes knocking over big blokes they will continue to struggle in big matches, simply because the opposition will knock them off the footy, block their running lines, scrag them into places where the footy doesn't go. This is why there will be games this year where Melbourne cannot get their hands on the footy at clearances because they will get muscled off the ball. Melbourne, despite Jones and Moloney's undoubted strength (McKenzie is important but might have OP and Gyzberts has not played enough footy) will sometimes get belted in close.
Malthouse, Sheedy, Roos & Matthews all understand that footy is a contact sport and that the biggest baddest sides usually win big matches. Go back through the years and you will almost universally find that the teams that win premierships do so on the back of big players, a solid defence and fierce man on man aggression. Northey knew that, Balme and Daniher never really embraced it, now it is up to Curley Bailey to instill in his players big game winning grunt.