Roaring: Skipper Jonathan Brown leads his team in the club song after the Lions stunned the Bombers.

Roaring: Skipper Jonathan Brown leads his team in the club song after the Lions stunned the Bombers. Photo: Pat Scala

Football the business is a constant source of concern these days. Drugs controversies, tanking sagas, and more lately, increasing concerns about the growing divide between the financially strong and those not so well-off.

But football the game has a wonderful knack of serving up food for thought just as our faith is being sorely tested. And it did so in emphatic fashion at the weekend.

Sometimes it seems the action itself provides its own in-built equalisation process. Just ask previously top-of-the-table Geelong or Essendon.

Between Friday and Saturday evening, four games were decided by a total of just 18 points. North Melbourne, given little chance in Perth against West Coast, led until after the final siren, losing in highly controversial circumstances.

On Saturday afternoon, the 15th-placed Brisbane Lions pulled off a massive upset of second-placed Essendon. Undermanned Fremantle came from nowhere to snatch a draw on the SCG. And the undefeated Cats were knocked off by a Collingwood outfit some early crowers had in danger of missing the eight.

No one argues that the wealthier clubs don't have a significant head start on those with fewer sponsors, members or reliant on extra league funding. But this is a conversation decades old. And the correlation between paucity of resources and paucity of performance is still far from crystal clear.

Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are the obvious exceptions, though both had their moments against Richmond and Gold Coast respectively. But the other teams in the lower reaches of the ladder? Surely most remain more capable of causing trouble than did the also-rans of the pre-draft and salary cap era.

The Lions' NAB Cup form wasn't some sort of mirage. They proved they could play. It was application that was sadly missing, and as that has returned over the past fortnight, so have the rewards. St Kilda may have won only two games, but it's also lost only two by more than 26 points.

North Melbourne was all but packed up and shipped off to the Gold Coast less than six years ago. It stayed, and now has better resources and higher membership than at any time in its history. It also has an emerging list that is in a position to do some damage sooner rather than later.

There were times even last year when the Gold Coast looked light years away from consistent competitiveness. Now the Suns are 4-4, more wins than for the entirety of 2012. The AFL now has two decent Queensland teams.

Port Adelaide hasn't been faring too badly, either, for a club on its knees on and off the field last year. Amazing how quickly a president with a profile in David Koch and a clearly capable coach in Ken Hinkley can change popular perception

As for the power clubs, you don't need to delve too far back into history to find more than a little contrast with their present status.

Hawthorn's financial position was so dire by the mid-1990s it actually sought a merger with Melbourne. Not just a little ironic in hindsight. And Geelong was, at the turn of the millennium, close to a financial cot case. Are there better examples of how even the most perilous of circumstances off the field are not irretrievable?

Or, in the North Melbourne of the 1990s, that you don't necessarily need blue-chip facilities and piles of dollar bills to put something pretty imposing out on the field each weekend.

The AFL isn't yet the EPL; premierships, fortunately, are not determined by revenue. What equalisation measures we do have might not be perfect, but they still work effectively enough, as 11 premiership clubs in the 23 completed seasons of the AFL era would indicate.

It takes more than riches to deliver. You need astute recruiting, coaching, and often just plenty of good old-fashioned strength of will.

And luckily for us fans, a tremendous round of football just gone has underlined it again.