Hawthorn has superior form, a week's break and has sustained virtually no significant injuries since early in the season. Cyril and Buddy will return. Geelong is sputtering and struggling with its rucks and tall forwards. Corey Enright's knee ailment has weakened the defence.
Paul Chapman, a noted Hawk-hater and destroyer, could well be missing as a result of a Buddy-like bump. This is the same Chappy, remember, who said he didn't ever want to lose to Hawthorn again after the 2008 grand final debacle.
Chapman could well get his wish this Friday, but in a read-the-fine-print/Macbeth-and-the-witches-way: He could be in the stands when the Hawks break the deep voodoo - or specific footy failings - that have seen the Cats prevail on 11 consecutive occasions since September 27, 2008.
The view of this game from the Hawks' bunker is already clear. They are sick of losing to Geelong, which is an impediment to the premiership they so desperately need to validate the Alastair Clarkson era. Yet, in brown and gold eyes, this game isn't about the Kennett curse, or even about conquering a nemesis called Geelong. It's about the Hawks producing when it really matters. ''It's about us,'' said Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold. ''It's not about them [Geelong]. It's what we can bring to the game.''
This is a game the Hawks should win. It is a game they must win. It is a game this columnist is confident they will win. This assessment is shared by those with close links to the club, such as Dermott Brereton and commentator Stephen Quartermain. Brereton observed that the Hawks were ''better off now than in any one of those previous 11 occasions'' in comparison with Geelong. Dermie noted that all of the losses to the Cats had been close.
Quartermain added: ''I think we'll win easily. We're primed. The only enemy is ourselves.''
The Hawks feel they didn't bring anything near their optimum football in their two relatively close encounters with the Cats this year. In the first meeting, they were overrun after leading by five goals. They were awful in the return match of round 15, in which the 10-point margin flattered them.
''If you look at the two games we've played, they've probably been our two worst games this year,'' said Newbold, who also acknowledged that over the course of those 11 losses, the Hawks ''haven't been good enough''.
The president was careful on Friday not to make any predictions or declarations about the outcome. ''I don't think we're in a position to make any declarations. I think you'll see a different attitude from us this week.''
Chris Fagan, the Hawthorn football operations manager who joined the club as a senior assistant coach in the fateful season of 2008, saw this game as nothing more or less than a test of the team's mettle. ''It will have everything to do with our want to win. That's what it comes down to in finals.''
Geelong's supremacy, however, suggests that the drive to beat the rival is based not so much on ''will to win'' as a refusal to accept defeat, or what a colleague likes to call ''loss aversion''. Chapman's vow wasn't ''We will beat this mob every time.'' It was framed in the negative ''We won't lose to them again.'' Geelong's steel was forged by the most acidic of defeats.
Perhaps 11 consecutive losses to Geelong - plus the squandering of a grand final against another club - has finally pushed Hawthorn to the unyielding mindset that Chapman and his teammates have had since 2008.
The consequences of a 12th loss, certainly, are horrendous for the Hawks, whose ageing midfield demographics will make it tough for them to contend beyond 2014.
Geelong's victories have been uniformly close, but the specific nature of the superiority has changed. In the 2009-11 period, the Cats would outlast Hawthorn - often coming from behind - by dint of larger-bodied players, both talls and midfielders. Cameron Ling could curb the smaller Sam Mitchell, while Brad Ottens usually ruled the skies, as did James Podsiadly and (in 2011) Tom Hawkins.
Since 2012, the advantage has been born of speed, as Geelong has evolved from muscular monsters into a quick team that scores heavily in transition from defence. The players that Hawks would fear most on Friday aren't Joel Corey, Jimmy Bartel or even Joel Selwood (though the skipper is certainly worrisome). Rather it's Travis Varcoe, Mathew Stokes and, above all, the astonishing Steven Motlop, who pose the greatest threat.
If there's psychological scar tissue for Hawthorn to overcome on Friday, it might relate as much to what happened in last year's finals as whatever psychic damage the Cats have supposedly inflicted. The Hawks' grand final failure - widely viewed as both a choke in front of goal and an exploitation of slow midfielders on the counter-attack - has obscured the fact that they also performed poorly in the prelim of 2012, when the Crows came within a kick of a Carlton v Essendon 1999 calibre upset.
The Hawks reckon they are much better placed to avoid the abrupt loss of form and energy that occurred in the 2012 preliminary final.
Last year, they expended enormous energy and effort in dragging themselves to the top four (and eventually top spot) from a shaky 5-4 record after round nine. This time, the early victories - they won 12 on end after round one - mean they haven't needed to exhaust themselves in order to make the top four and win the minor premiership.
All logic points to the Hawks on Friday. It would truly take something bordering on supernatural - like a curse - to turn this storied streak into a very dirty dozen.