Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan is confident his team's kicking efficiency will improve after an encouraging but incomplete performance against St Kilda that saw the Lions shoot themselves in the foot.

An upset was brewing on Saturday afternoon, but turnovers killed the Lions under the Etihad Stadium roof as St Kilda feasted on the young team's mistakes to kick away late and win by 25 points.

Fagan, who was excited by a new look team that included No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner, said a pre-season spent focusing on contested ball and defensive structure could have hurt the Lions' ball use.

The coach was confident it would not be a lasting problem though. 

"You look at some of the stats in this game; we won the clearances so very, very well, we won contested possession (and) time in forward half," Fagan said. 

"But the telling statistic is kicking efficiency. We were 14 per cent worse than St Kilda and that was the game.

"It was one of our strengths last year, we were actually pretty good at it. But we've worked on our defensive action and our contested ball all summer, and sometimes the other little bit suffers.

"In time with this group we'll get it in balance. I don't think there was a lot in this game today."

St Kilda routinely got free behind Brisbane's defenders on Saturday, kicking their opening four goals from within 15m.  

"That's what happens when you get turnovers, you can't defend them, they just bunny hop you all the way down the oval," Fagan said.

"They were good enough to do that and we probably weren't good enough at punishing them the other way."

Rayner showed why he was recruited with the Lions' No.1 pick in last November's NAB AFL Draft when he gathered, burst sideways and snapped a classy goal across his body in the third quarter.

The powerful youngster finished with eight possessions and two inside 50s, with Fagan excited by what he saw. 

"I thought he could have kicked a couple of others with a little bit more composure," the coach said. 

"He showed some good glimpses … he'll grow and develop."

The coach described champion recruit Luke Hodge as "pretty solid" in defence, while Charlie Cameron (three goals) was exciting. 

"You could see why we got him to the club," Fagan said. "Not just his ability to score, but to apply pressure to the opposition and compete in the air and on the ground.

"I'm really pleased for Allen Christensen. He's been out of the game for nearly two years and I thought he made a really solid contribution today."