Brendan McCartney’s unheralded side booted the first six goals of the game, then went on with the job, snapping an 11-game losing streak with a 19.13.127 to 7.17.59. victory.
It was the Dogs’ first home and away season win since they beat Port Adelaide on June 17 last year.
Promoted rookie Brett Goodes made an outstanding debut. Roaming across half-back, the 29-year-old was instrumental as the Bulldogs opened a 37-point half-time lead.
He finished with 23 possessions and a disposal efficiency of 91 per cent.
Despite being without their skipper Matthew Boyd, who missed the game due to a calf injury, the Bulldogs dominated in the midfield, with new boys Koby Stevens and Nick Lower both playing crucial roles.
Stevens gathered 17 touches before he had to be subbed out of the game with hamstring soreness.
Lower did a brilliant tagging job on Daniel Rich, restricting the Lions star to just four possessions in the first half and only seven for the game.
Ryan Griffen, Tom Liberatore, Mitch Wallis and rejuvenated gun Adam Cooney were other important contributors.
Floating across half-forward then half-back, Cooney moved freely, won plenty of the ball and booted a long-range goal.
Daniel Giansiracusa and Shaun Higgins led the way up forward with three goals each, while Bob Murphy was among five players who chipped in with two.
Murphy’s haul included a sensational banana kick from right on the boundary line early in the third quarter.
Down back, Jordan Roughead held Lions co-captain Jonathan Brown to one goal, while Dale Morris looked right at home in his first game since he suffered a broken leg late in the 2011 season.
It was a massive let down for the Lions, who looked set to be one of the competition’s big improvers after they demolished Carlton in the NAB Cup Grand Final two weeks ago.
But Michael Voss’ men were flat from the outset and were hurt by poor kicking for goal when they did get going.
Midfielder Tom Rockliff led the way for the Lions on the stats sheet, while former Melbourne on-baller Brent Moloney also tried his best to turn things around.
However, Matt Maguire added to his team’s woes when he had to be subbed out of the game midway through the third quarter after suffering an ankle injury.
The Lions will need to produce a much better showing when they play their first home game of the season against Adelaide at the Gabba next Saturday night.
Having been widely tipped to finish in the bottom four on the ladder, the Bulldogs will be aiming to deliver another blow to their doubters when they host Fremantle at Etihad Stadium next Saturday afternoon.