This Friday night's Semi Final between Geelong and North Melbourne will be an historic game regardless of the result. It's not because twin brothers, Chris and Brad Scott, are coaching against each other. Rather, it is what is on the line for the respective sides. Not only will the losers season be over, but they will also take with them a recent finals record that is less than enviable.
If Geelong were to lose on Friday night their finals record since 2011 will become 1-5. That would be their worst stretch of finals form since the mid-90s and surely the curtain will be drawn on their great era.
In the context of the last decade, though, it is an aberration. Since 2004, when the Cats made a preliminary final, their finals record is 15-10. If you were to use your imagination and condense that record into a single season, they'd be playing off for another flag.
Of course, North Melbourne's finals record makes for much more bleak reading. Their win over Essendon on Saturday night was their first finals victory since 2007. That's seven full seasons without a finals win. Not only that, the 2007 victory came seven years after their previously most recent win, in 2000. Thus, on average, the Roos win a final every seven years.
In the time that Geelong have played 25 finals, with a winning percentage of 60, North have played seven, with a winning percentage of just below 29. Therein lies the upside for the Roos.
If North Melbourne can pull off a win on Friday, it will be the first time since 1999 that they have enjoyed consecutive finals victories. Having seen the unbridled joy with which they celebrated Drew Petrie's match winning goals against Essendon, one can only imagine what the players would be feeling if they could do the same to Geelong. Last week's win was waited on for seven years, a win this week would be 15 years in waiting.
The question is, can North beat Geelong? The simple answer is yes, but nothing is ever really simple. Of the six teams still left in this year's finals, Geelong is the only team North have played twice. They are also the only team they have lost to. In fact, the Cats have what could only be described as an overwhelmingly dominant record of the Roos.
In Geelong's Golden Era, from early 2007, they have a 10-2 record over North Melbourne. Extend that back to 2004 and it becomes 13-4.
The record that will make all the difference on Friday night, though, is the 2014 rankings for quarter by quarter wins.
Geelong are ranked number one in the competition this season for winning first quarters (18 of 23) and second quarters (16 of 23). North Melbourne, on the other hand, are ranked number one for third quarter wins (17 of 23) and last quarters (16 of 23). Meanwhile, North are last in second quarters (7 of 23) and Geelong are 16th in third quarters (8 of 23). It all makes for an intriguing tussle.
If the Roos can keep in touch up to halftime, they may just run away with it. Geelong have shown recently, particularly in their last two games against Hawthorn, that they can be scored against quite quickly. Conversely, North have showed at different times during the season that they are vulnerable in much the same way.
North Melbourne may have the upper hand in this area. The emergence of Ben Brown in the second half of the year has worked wonders for their forward line. Drew Petrie's form has improved having Brown in the team, and even Aaron Black has shown some good signs in the last few weeks. They have goal kicking midfielders in Ben Cunnington, Levi Greenwood, Sam Gibson and Daniel Wells. There is also the imminent return of Brent Harvey.
While Geelong boast just as much scoring power in their midfield, they really only have one tall forward option, Tom Hawkins. That could stretch to two if Josh Walker can step up. They would be loathe to move Harry Taylor forward, as they did against Hawthorn, and leave them exposed for height in the back line.
North will also be looking to dominate out of the centre, with Hamish McIntosh a confirmed non-starter for the Cats. That will leave Mark Blicavs as the number one ruckman and a likely inclusion of Dawson Simpson as backup. Between them they have played 68 games. Their opponent, Todd Goldstein has played 123 games and is one of the best three or four ruckmen in the game. If Goldstein can get his hitouts to the rights spots and his midfielders capitalise, it could be all over by half-time.
Geelong can not be underestimated, though. They have been written off many times, but still find a way to win. It would surprise no one if they did it again this week.
It's worth noting that the Cats' period of domination more or less started in Round 6 of 2007, with a 26-goal annihilation of Richmond. Since then they have enjoyed a winning percentage in the mid-80s. The loss that preceded that Richmond game, in Round 5 of 2007, was against North Melbourne. Wouldn't it be somewhat poetic if The Golden Era also ended with a loss to the Roos?