Sydney’s premier big man Kurt Tippett is gone, so in-form Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn looms as a key figure in giving Demons coach Paul Roos a happy AFL return to the SCG.
Sunday’s game represents the first time Roos will have coached Melbourne at the SCG, a ground he knows so well.
He played there 57 times during his career with Fitzroy and Sydney and had close to eight-and-a-half seasons as head coach of the Swans.
The only two games Melbourne have played against Sydney in Roos’s Demons tenure were both at the MCG and the Swans emerged victorious from both clashes.
They have won just one of their last 11 against the Swans, but an upset on Sunday will enable them to equal their entire 2015 victory tally of seven.
Melbourne are coming off a morale-raising victory over Collingwood in which Gawn starred.
He recorded career-best personal best tallies of 14 kicks, 27 disposals and three goals.
With Tippett sidelined for up to eight weeks by hamstring tendon surgery on Wednesday, Callum Sinclair and Toby Nankervis, who has played just six senior games, will have the formidable job of trying to combat Gawn.
“It’s just about those two (Sinclair and Nankervis) doing a job, not allowing him (Gawn) to get his hands on the footy around the ground,” Swans midfielder Jake Lloyd told AAP.
“Putting as much pressure on him as they can and getting their knee up into him and giving us first use in there.”
Roos was under no illusions about the magnitude of the task facing his side.
“I think the players are really aware that we’re going have to be on our game to give ourselves a chance to win,” Roos told Melbourne TV.
“If we go up there go there with a poor mindset Sydney are going to have a pretty easy victory.”
Tippett apart, Sydney lost defenders Jeremy Laidler and Harry Marsh to injury and dropped Harry Cunningham.
The four promoted players – Nankervis, Dean Towers, Aliir Aliir and George Hewett – have played just 38 senior games between them.
Melbourne named an unchanged side.
The match features the first on-field meeting between Demons captain Nathan Jones and his younger brother and emerging Swan, Zak.