Melbourne City have leapt to the top of the A-League Men table, with Marco Tilio lighting up AAMI Park in the reigning champions' 3-0 win over Newcastle.

Wearing the captain's armband in Scott Jamieson's injury-enforced absence on Friday, Jamie Maclaren brilliantly volleyed City in front two minutes into first-half stoppage time.

In the second half, Tilio stole the show as a No.10, weaving his way through a swathe of defenders to tee up Mathew Leckie for City's second, then 12 minutes later, assisting Carl Jenkinson for the third.

But coach Patrick Kisnorbo was measured on Tilio's eye-catching performance.

"Marco's a player that obviously needs games to improve. That's reality: he's only young," coach Patrick Kisnorbo said.

"A performance like this, it helps.

"One thing that I'll never do is guarantee people to play. So even though Marco went off in the first half (with calf tightness) last week, I decided to stick with him because it worked with what we needed to do.

"I thought he was good at times, I thought sometimes he was a bit sloppy but that's part of the learning.

"Part of my job is ... to help him and learn things in different areas and today, saw some good things and also some things that he can improve on."

Newcastle dominated much of the first half, despite conceding late, and Maclaren told Paramount Plus post-match the first 45 had prompted some "honest truths" from Kisnorbo.

"Maybe my voice went up a few decibels. That's sports and that's football. I was really happy with the reaction that they gave," Kisnorbo said.

"Sometimes things need changing and I'm not talking about personnel or formation, but I needed to get a reaction from the players and I thought we did that tonight."

Jets coach Arthur Papas was left to lament a lack of clinical edge in the final third, before Leckie's goal and Taylor Regan's send-off for a second yellow card two minutes later changed the game.

"First half, probably our best half since we returned from the break," Papas said.

"Our football was very good up until the last third ... Then you concede on halftime, probably against the run of play, should defend better in the box.

"Then the game changes in two moments in the second half (with Leckie's goal and the red card).

"Ten men, when you're playing Melbourne City, doesn't matter what the circumstances are, they're obviously going to put us to the sword."