THE most obvious parallel between Ross Lyon as coach of St Kilda and his second coming as boss of Fremantle is how the first season in charge of either club unfolded.
The Saints in 2007 initially struggled to adjust to the demands of the new master's voice, winning only four of their first 11 games with Lyon in charge, but came home with a wet sail, losing only three games thereafter to narrowly miss a finals berth. The Dockers this year were batting 6-7 after 13 games. Fremantle has won nine from 10 from that point - some recovery.
But there's another statistic about Freo's second half of the season just as eye-catching as the win-loss columns, and in complete contrast to its typecasting just a couple of months ago as a team so dour as to be, as Kevin Bartlett famously branded Lyon's side, unwatchable.
The Dockers have got Lyon's defensive mantra down pat now. But they're also proving more than a little handy on the offensive front.
Fremantle topped 100 points in the first game of the season, against Geelong. It failed to reach that mark again until round 16. But since then, the Dockers have done it five times. In fact, seven of Freo's eight highest scores of 2012 have come in their past 10 games, the starkest possible example of why Lyon's side has gone in a matter of weeks from outside finals chance to a real possibility of reaching the last four.
At the end of round 14, the Dockers, while defensively strong, had no other strings to their bow. They were ranked only equal 13th for goals, and an even lower equal 15th for inside-50 entries. What scoring chances did come their way were regularly squandered and they ranked just 14th for marks inside 50 and similarly for percentage of scores from forward entries.
The turnaround has been obvious. Fremantle, in its 10 games since, ranks equal sixth for goals, fifth for inside 50s, fourth for marks inside 50 and equal fifth for percentage of scores for times in attack.
Lyon's formula for success has been openly stated repeatedly, again to The Age just last week. ''Premiership teams are top-four attack and top-four defence and top-four contested ball,'' he said. ''Then you know you're a serious AFL team. They're non-negotiables for every team. You've got to compete. Don't compete, don't play well.''
Fremantle finished the regular season equal third for contested ball, and second only to Sydney for lowest points conceded. The third part of that jigsaw puzzle is now rapidly being put in place.
Lyon doesn't like his Dockers being compared with his version of St Kilda. ''We don't play exactly the same as my previous club,'' he said last week. ''We've adjusted ball-use, stoppage structures, adjusted the way we defend, compared to the Saints. Anyone who thinks it's identical is off the mark. We've changed with the game.'' These figures would seem to back that up.
Skipper Matthew Pavlich has been the obvious focus of the Freo scoring boom. He'd kicked 28 goals in his first 13 games. He has kicked 40 in the past 10, from round 15 onwards he is ranked behind only Lance Franklin for scoreboard impact. Hayden Ballantyne was averaging 10.1 points impact per game up to the same cut-off point, and an average of 17.2 since. The prodigiously talented Michael Walters has been a bonus in the scoring boom. Since his reintroduction to senior ranks, he's coming second at the Dockers for scoreboard impact, at 19.7 points per game.
Opponents point to several factors beyond the individuals involved in the second-half turnaround. Fremantle's forward defensive pressure has lifted significantly. And the Dockers, having nailed the art of strangling opposing forward structures, are now also mastering the rebound. ''Their midfielders work exceptionally hard to get back and help the defence,'' says one opposing assistant coach. ''Then they're getting on the break the other way, and getting Pavlich involved in more one-on-ones.'' That's something Geelong's Tom Lonergan found to his cost last week.
''They're also not giving it up as much in the back half, more careful in how they bring it out, and they're possessing it a lot more by foot,'' the assistant said.
Again, the figures don't lie. Freo, up to round 14, ranked 11th in the competition for kicking. Now it's sixth. It was fifth for handballs, now 14th. And the Dockers' uncontested marks ranking has risen from ninth to third. All means to an end. At the other end. Lyon had already made a mark on Fremantle this season. And now the Dockers are making it where, ultimately, it counts most. On the scoreboard.