Geelong's George Horlin-Smith clashes with Hawthorn's Jordan Lewis at the MCG in round one this year. The Hawks lost by seven points. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Finding yourself in a close game with Geelong is like discovering you are the guy left to chase Cyril Rioli into an empty forward line. Even if you manage to stick with him, which you won't, he will still find a way to leave you reaching out cartoonishly grasping at air wondering where he went.
Actually, finding yourself in a close game with Geelong is more accurately like discovering you have to beat Joel Selwood in a clearance.
Close encounters on the football field.
The Cats' record suggests they win close games. Carlton and St Kilda do not. Richmond too has also tended not to win the tight games.
In the thrillers, the one-kick games decided by a goal or less, the Cats have won more than any other team since 2009.
Given they have been the most dominant team of the modern era, this should hardly surprise. What is surprising is that for all their dominance, they have been involved in so many close games.
The Cats have played in 18 games decided by less than a kick in that time and won two-thirds of them.
This win-loss ratio has a profound effect not only on ladder positions, but on the psychology of a team confronting those tight moments. Geelong plays like it expects to win and understands what it needs to do.
St Kilda was also one of the top teams for most of this period yet it has a poor record. The Saints, like Carlton, have played 11 games decided by a kick and have won four and lost seven.
The Tigers have a record on a par with the Saints and Blues - from 11 close games they have won five.
Some teams simply have a greater propensity to win the close games. The assumption would be to think it is about the maturity of the bodies as well as the mind. It is about the bigger midfield in particular being able to win contested possession when it matters. It is about the skilled team being sufficiently able to slow tempo, kill time and keep possession.
It is about the experienced heads knowing when to hit the boundary line and when to rush numbers behind the ball. It is about intelligent footballers not tiring and understanding how to defensively set up at a contest and not leave space open for a forward to run through.
Thoughts on this turn to Hayden Ballantyne on Friday night and where the Richmond players set up at the crucial last boundary throw-in when the Docker scored.
''There seemed to be a lot of space up in Freo's forward line for them to be able to kick the goal,'' said former Geelong captain Cameron Ling on Seven's Game Day.
Geelong learnt its close-game lessons more painfully than Richmond. Nick Davis instructed a generation of Cats in these matters when he scythed through a fatigued Geelong defence to goal in the Swans' semi-final win over the Cats in 2005. That is the sort of lesson a team learns.
''As bad as it is on the night they [Richmond] are going [to learn] from that and that's where they will get better. You can do all you like during the week but until you are put into those sort of circumstances where the game is on the line and that is where heads are not right that's where you learn most,'' Cats veteran Andrew Mackie said on the same program.
There is a statistical quirk in these figures. Five of the wins Geelong has enjoyed in games won by less than a goal since 2009 have been over Hawthorn. Obviously the same also goes for five of Hawthorn's losses.
Hawthorn does not lack for physical body size, experience or maturity compared to Geelong so the typical arguments of why one should normally prevail in close games simply seem not to apply.
When playing any side other than Geelong, Hawthorn's results are extraordinary: nine games for seven wins and two losses. Geelong's results without Hawthorn are a more even 13 games for seven wins. Which proves a point that Hawthorn basically wins the close ones against any side except for Geelong.
The Hawks won the game against North Melbourne on Sunday night for example - a meeting of one side with a propensity to win close games against a side with a statistical propensity to lose them. It should not have surprised.
''We were probably a bit lucky in the end to get the four points. We found a way. I don't know how but we did somehow,'' Hawk Grant Birchall said on Monday.