Geelong may have an impressive record against Sydney in recent years, but the Cats – and in particular Mark Blicavs – face an enormous challenge to handle the Swans, having left two of their best defenders in Melbourne.
Tom Lonergan and Corey Enright did not fly with the team to Sydney on Wednesday. Lonergan has not recovered in time from concussion, having twice been accidentally hit by North Melbourne's Leigh Adams last weekend, while Enright has a sore ankle.
Steve Johnson, who has been told by coach Chris Scott a strong performance is required on his return from suspension, will play, while Billie Smedts and uncapped debutants Brad Hartman and Darcy Lang were also on the flight.
Lonergan's absence is a major blow for he would have had the task of curbing Lance Franklin, who has been in strong form in the past month and has dramatically lifted his contested marking. Since he was held goalless by North Melbourne in round four, Franklin has responded with 12 goals in four matches.
Cats football manager Neil Balme said Lonergan had run out of time to prove he had recovered from the knocks, which led to him being subbed off in the first quarter last weekend.
"Unfortunately there hasn't been enough time to go through the process with him," Balme said on Wednesday.
"There's an argument that he could be OK by game time but we just don't take that sort of risk."
Veteran Enright hurt the cartilage in his ankle against the Kangaroos and may only miss one week.
"He's a bit sore," Balme said.
Smedts only returned to the VFL last weekend, having been unable to play for two months because of a fractured leg.
"We have been pretty conservative [with his recovery]," Balme said.
"He's done a lot of running, so he's very fit and he looked pretty good last week in the VFL. With blokes who have got talent, why waste them? And it's kind of exacerbated a bit because the VFL's got a bye, so it's not as though he could play another full game."
The Cats are likely to wait until late on Thursday to finalise their team, with some players still sore.
"There's a few doubts around the place because of the two lots of [six-day breaks] and the two lots of travelling over three weeks," Balme said.
What will buoy the Cats is that they have won 12 of their past 14 matches against the Swans, including two of the past three at the SCG.