The arrogance is gone, and the hunger is back. Now the Ainslie Tricolours have set their sights on delivering a third-consecutive flag to Alan Ray Oval.
The opening three weeks of the season left the Tricolours in an unfamiliar position. Winless, and out of the top four.
Twelve weeks later, they finished on top of the table and will host the Belconnen Magpies in AFL Canberra's major semi-final at Alan Ray Oval on Saturday.
The Tricolours were never on top of the table until after the final round of the regular season, but their dominant three-month stretch left
They didn't adjust well to being hunted in the opening stages of the season, but Ainslie coach Chris Rourke says his side will use that reality check to steel their charge towards a third-straight premiership.
"Watching the video [of the first three games], I think we were a little bit arrogant. We thought it was just going to happen and we got knocked off by some pretty good sides," Rourke said.
"Belconnen certainly took it up to us in the first game and gave us a fair shellacking, and we realised we had to do some hard work. The boys have stuck at that.
"We don’t like losing here at Ainslie, and to lose three in a row was something we hadn’t done for a while. The boys put their heads down, they did some good work and started to win some contested footy, and started to trust each other and we’ve built from there.
"We certainly know when we’re not on our game we can get beaten. We were hunted, the other sides were hunting us really well and we didn’t react to it.
"We had to adjust to being hunted again and get a bit of hunger back in and that’s come back."
Lexie Bennett has overcome a hamstring complaint as he prepares to play his 150th first grade game for the Magpies, while Sam Fisher looks to have missed out with a hamstring problem of his own.
The Queanbeyan Tigers will meet the Eastlake Demons in a sudden-death showdown at Margaret Donoghoe Oval on Sunday.
The Tigers come into the clash a week after thrashing Belconnen and booking a spot in the preliminary final would be a massive boost for Queanbeyan following its AFL Canberra club championship triumph.
The same four clubs will contest the women's seniors finals series, with Belconnen meeting Eastlake in a grand final qualifier, while Queanbeyan will host Ainslie as both sides look to keep their seasons alive.
If that wasn't enough, the same four clubs will play in the second grade and Rising Stars finals.
AFL CANBERRA FINALS WEEK ONE
Saturday: Major semi-final - Men's - Ainslie Tricolours v Belconnen Magpies at Alan Ray Oval, 1.30pm. Women's - Belconnen Magpies v Eastlake Demons at Alan Ray Oval, 4pm.
Sunday: Minor semi-final - Men's - Queanbeyan Tigers v Eastlake Demons at Margaret Donoghoe Oval, 1.30pm. Women's - Queanbeyan Tigers v Ainslie Tricolours at Margaret Donoghoe Oval, 4pm.