For the first time in almost a decade, AFL clubs are travelling down the Princes Highway to take on Geelong with a feeling of expectation, rather than dread.
Melbourne’s 24-point upset victory on Sunday when the Cats were meant to be celebrating Corey Enright’s 300th match marked the first time since 2006 that Geelong had lost successive matches at Simonds Stadium.
They are 1-3 at their home venue in 2015 following losses to Fremantle, North Melbourne and the Demons.
And it could have been even worse, with bottom side Gold Coast running Geelong very close in round three before coming up nine points short.
It is in stark contrast to the Cats’ remarkable 93 per cent winning home record from 2007-14, when they they lost just four times in 60 matches.
Coach Chris Scott admitted that visiting teams were less cowed at the prospect of tackling Geelong on their home turf in 2015.
“It’s hard for us to control what the opposition is thinking,” said Scott, after the 10th-placed Cats slipped to 6-6 ahead of their bye week.
“But are they a little bit more confident coming down here than they used to be? Probably.
“It’s hard to argue with that.”
Scott refused to publicly castigate his players, despite acknowledging that the loss stung even harder, coming as it did on the day when favourite son Enright become only the third member of Geelong’s 300 Club.
“You’ve got to be careful of the big statements when you’re very disappointed post-game,” said Scott.
“I’ve always said that it’s difficult in the middle of the season to assess where things stand.
“If it was hard (to assess where the Cats stood) pre-game, it’s a little harder now.”
The Cats’ four remaining home games at Simonds Stadium this year are against the Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide.
GEELONG’S TRAVAILS AT HOME IN 2015
Round two: Lost to Fremantle by 44 points
Round three: Beat Gold Coast by nine points
Round four: Lost to North Melbourne by 16 points
Round 12: Lost to Melbourne by 24 points