In what is shaping as a remarkably even AFL season, Geelong coach Chris Scott believes the Cats have the capacity to buck history if required and win the premiership from outside the top four.
Premiers in three of the last five years, Geelong find themselves in the unfamiliar position of ninth after Saturday's 50-point hammering at the hands of Adelaide saw their win-loss record slip to 4-3.
Next up is a massive grand final rematch against seventh-placed Collingwood on Friday night.
Although loath to predict how many wins will be needed to finish in the top four or top eight in an expanded 18-team competition, Scott said there were less easier games than ever before.
"All the way down to 14th or 15th is really tight," Scott said on Monday.
"Anyone on their day can beat anyone else, which is a really healthy place for the competition to be in.
"But it does make it really difficult to maintain your level throughout the season because with the possible exception of the expansion teams, you know you need to play at a really high standard every week and you can't take any liberties with your form."
Since 2000, 46 of the 48 preliminary finalists have ended the home and away season inside the top four.
But Scott believed the Cats' quest for a fourth flag in six years would still be very much alive if they qualified for the finals yet again but missed out on the double chance.
"Our preference is to finish top four, but if we finish outside the top four and we make the finals, we'd be pretty confident we could win it," he said.
Geelong are confident of getting triple-premiership stars Jimmy Bartel (ankle) and Matthew Scarlett (thigh) back for the clash with the Magpies, after both were late withdrawals against Adelaide.
But there are bigger question marks over exciting small forward Allen Christensen (calf) and defender Tom Gillies (knee), who suffered injuries against the Crows.
If we finish outside the top four and we make the finals, we'd be pretty confident we could win it - Chris Scott
Mathew Stokes could be in line to replace Christensen, having missed the last two rounds with an ankle problem.