The narrative about both sides shifted dramatically in the past week. Melbourne eliminated Geelong in its first finals appearance in 12 years, whereas Hawthorn's early competitiveness against Richmond subsided in a 31-point defeat. Many observers have since written the Hawks off – always a dangerous thing to do – and another loss would result in their second straight-sets exit in three years after a top-four finish. Melbourne, on the other hand, is aiming for back-to-back finals triumphs for the first time since 2000, when it last made a Grand Final. Hawthorn obliterated the Demons in the clearances last time, so the midfield battle at the feet of Ben McEvoy and Max Gawn will again be pivotal.