Geelong completed the VFL/AFL double in 2007.

Geelong completed the VFL/AFL double in 2007. Photo: John Donegan

Sydney, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and North Melbourne will have pre-cooked meals sitting in the fridge come finals time, but fellow premiership aspirants Fremantle, Geelong and Essendon will need first to defrost any inclusions they will have.

The reason is that the various state league competitions all ended their home-and-away seasons on the weekend, meaning that a bunch of top-eight teams will no longer have their reserves playing games at the weekend, a potential obstacle if recent history is a guide.

Of the past 10 AFL premiers to have fielded stand-alone reserves sides, eight have had their second-stringers playing in the state league finals.

The case of Hawthorn last year is a prime example. The Hawks' VFL afilliate Box Hill continued to play deep into September, eventually upsetting Geelong's VFL team two days after the AFL side had escaped against the Cats in the preliminary final.

Brendan Whitecross' knee injury in that game opened the door for Jonathan Simpkin - warmed up from playing in the VFL decider - to fill Whitecross' breach, and replicate Steven King's 2007 feat of playing in two premierships just six days apart.

King's inclusion for Geelong's ultimately fruitful tilt at a drought-breaking premiership highlights another perk of having a reserves side shadow the seniors through the finals. Mark Blake had become a concern, and King's recent form made the decision to axe Blake easier.

Geelong would have defeated Port Adelaide with Susan Boyle in the ruck that day, but King more than justified his selection, complementing Brad Ottens in the ruck.

The Cats will not be able to enjoy the same luxury next month, with their VFL side's season ending after Werribee defeated Frankston on Sunday. Responding to the news, backman Tom Lonergan conceded the absence of active depth could be detrimental to the club's chances of silverware.

"Disappointed to see them go, because we do need those guys playing some footy for us in September for us to do well," Lonergan told radio K-Rock.

Box Hill has had another strong season, earning the double chance. It means the likes of Ben McEvoy, Ryan Schoenmakers and Angus Litherland will have the chance to continue staking a claim.

The first year of a revamped SANFL competition has given Port Adelaide's remarkably healthy list the guarantee of further hitouts. With Port Adelaide Magpies claiming the minor premiership in its maiden campaign as the Power's reserves team, there will be no shortage of cover available should Port require. Adelaide's SANFL team did not, however, make the finals.

The WAFL also went down the track of stand-alone sides in 2014, and while West Coast's affiliate East Perth has qualified for the finals, Fremantle's back-ups won't get the chance to keep playing at Peel Thunder.

It is not a new challenge for Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, whose grand final teams at St Kilda in 2009 and 2010 did not have alignment partner Sandringham competing in the VFL finals during either campaign.

The Swans' NEAFL side has progressed to the finals, as have both of North Melbourne's semi-aligned clubs Werribee and North Ballarat, although the pair face off this weekend in an elimination final. But in the highly unlikely event Gold Coast Suns make the finals, they won't have the reserves team to accompany them after they went 0-18 with a percentage of 42 in the NEAFL.

Of the premiers over the past decade, only Hawthorn (2008) and Geelong (2011) did not have reserves sides competing in the finals. The Hawks' plight in 2009 - when they missed the eight -  was perhaps reflective of this, with Alastair Clarkson's list unable to cope when injuries mounted. Clarkson had showed he was a master chef in 2008, but as 2009 showed, even great chefs need fresh ingredients.

AFL premiers since 2002: How their reserves teams fared:

2013: Hawthorn  (Box Hill , VFL premier)

2012: Sydney (Sydney, NEAFL conference final)

2011: Geelong (Geelong, VFL missed finals)

2010: Collingwood (Collingwood, VFL elimination final)

2009: Geelong (Geelong, VFL elimination final)

2008: Hawthorn (Box Hill, VFL missed finals)

2007: Geelong (Geelong, VFL premier)

2006: West Coast (reserves spread across WAFL)

2005: Sydney (Sydney, AFL Canberra premier)

2004: Port Adelaide (reserves spread across SANFL)

2003: Brisbane Lions (Suncoast Lions, QAFL preliminary final)

2002: Brisbane Lions (Suncoast Lions, QAFL preliminary final)

2014 potential AFL finalists: did their reserves make the finals?

Sydney (Sydney, NEAFL) Yes

Hawthorn (Box Hill, VFL) Yes

Geelong (Geelong, VFL) No

Fremantle (Peel Thunder, WAFL) No

Port Adelaide (Port Magpies, SANFL) Yes

North Melbourne (Werribee, VFL) Yes and (North Ballarat, VFL) Yes

Essendon (Essendon, VFL) No

Richmond (Richmond, VFL) No

Collingwood (Collingwood, VFL) Yes

West Coast (East Perth, WAFL) Yes

Adelaide (Adelaide, SANFL) No

Gold Coast (Gold Coast, NEAFL) No