Geelong entered the 2020 AFL Grand Closing with a staff even older than the perimeters Hawthorn took into the 2015 decider and 2016 finals.
But when shedding to Richmond and sending Gary Ablett and Harry Taylor off to retirement was meant to mark the top of an period, no person advised the Cats.
Final yr Geelong, enjoying with matchday groups that have been at occasions even older than that evening on the Gabba, recorded their fifth top-four end in six seasons.
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Then the preliminary ultimate occurred.
One purpose within the first quarter and only one in your entire second half to Melbourne’s 10 was maybe probably the most brutal actuality test of the season, save for the grand ultimate itself.
Tigers nice and Channel 7 footy commentator Matthew Richardson has, for now, banished the concept that the Cats can compete for the premiership.
However the humbling defeat and their plodding game style inevitably raised contemporary questions on Geelong’s means to compete on the prime finish of city in any respect.
“A lot of people are thinking ‘can the Cats keep finishing top four?’,” Richardson advised 7NEWS.com.au.
“And I guess you start to doubt that they can. They’re the oldest team in the competition and they haven’t really gotten any younger over the summer.
“You wonder if they can do it again… but you look at their record down at Geelong over the last 15 years – they win 90 per cent games down there.
“Even if they are not quite the team they used to be, I think that home-ground advantage is probably the biggest in the competition.
“You’d have them playing finals. Can they win the premiership? I don’t think so.
“But you can’t ever say Geelong won’t be there. History shows they are and the culture of the club is so strong.”
That tradition has undergone a shake-up over the low season, with two membership greats (Matthew Scarlett and Corey Enright) departing for 2 former teammates (James Kelly and Harry Taylor).
Matthew Egan has additionally returned to the membership, becoming a member of alongside Eddie Betts, whereas Chris Scott’s key assistant Matthew Knights left for West Coast.
What Richo wants to see earlier than tipping Cats as a contender
The teaching shift already seems to have had an affect, with Richardson seeing constructive indicators by means of the pre-season that the Cats gained’t get hung up on a defensive game style.
“They do need to change how they play,” he mentioned.
“In the pre-season … they did look to want to be moving the ball quicker out of their defensive 50.
“They looked to be trying to get handball receives in their D50 and run and carry the ball out a bit more.
“I think that’s important for them because in the really tight, high-pressure games, that kick-uncontested mark style comes unstuck a little bit. I think they know that.”
Whether or not Geelong can lean on techniques that may maintain up and assist flip their assured dwelling wins into one thing greater than a false daybreak stays to be seen.
Richardson, although, believes Scott and the revamped teaching group can’t afford to experiment all year long at any price.
“I think history shows if you want to win the flag you’ve got to finish top four. It stacked up last year and it stacks up most years,” he mentioned.
“You can’t really look at the season and think ‘we’ll time our run’. Win your winnable games and go from there.”
Geelong head into the brand new season with a steady checklist, having despatched Jordan Clark to Fremantle whereas handing an AFL lifeline to Tyson Stengle and securing Hawthorn ruckman Jon Ceglar.
They’ll once more lean closely on Tom Hawkins, turning 34 through the yr, and hope that Jeremy Cameron can play greater than the 15 video games he managed final season.
“I don’t know where we sit within the competition and that’s what we’re going to find out within the first few rounds,” Hawkins mentioned this week.
“We’ve had a wonderful pre-season but 17 other clubs say the same thing, so we’ll find out once we start.
“But we’re really confident that we’ve got the list to be able to not only compete but challenge the best sides in the competition.”