Don’t try telling the Demons and Giants their final round AFL fixture on Sunday doesn’t matter.
Many pundits are suggesting the game at Etihad Stadium is the deadest of dead rubbers between two teams with no finals aspirations.
Some including Collingwood great Tony Shaw have suggested opening the gates to avoid a possible record low attendance at the venue for an AFL game, dipping below the 12,542 who attended the Western Bulldogs-Fremantle match in 2003.
But it’s a measure of how seriously the Giants are taking the game that the only changes they’ve made have been forced by injuries.
Coming in are debutant Jake Barrett, the first cousin of Hawthorn forward Luke Breust and second cousin of NRL great Trent Barrett, and fellow midfielder Jacob Townsend, who will finally get to play his first senior match of an injury-ravaged campaign.
Two of the Demons four changes have also been forced by injuries, though Jack Watts and Matt Jones have both been dropped.
Melbourne, who have lost their last four games to GWS, will also include a debutant in defender Mitchell White.
The Demons have lost their past four games during which they have been outscored 26 goals to four in the first quarter.
They haven’t scored more than 55 points in their last three games and will want to end a horrific 22-game winless streak at the venue that stretches back over eight years.
The Giants will be striving for a 12th win, a tally which in most years would be enough to guarantee a finals spot.
Seven losses in their last 11 games killed off hopes of a maiden finals campaign, though they achieved a club record 81-point win over Carlton last weekend.
They can’t finish any lower than a franchise record 12th and have vastly improved their previous season best win tally of six.
“We’re pretty disappointed to not make finals, there’s a couple of games there which we should have won,” Townsend told AAP.
“We’re looking forward to going out there and hopefully getting another win and make it 12 wins for the year and obviously that’s a pretty good season from us.
“At the start of the year we were hoping to win eight to ten.
“I know the boys are going out there to finish off the season on a high.”
Melbourne will be looking to give their long-suffering fans some hope going into the off-season after another disappointing campaign which has gleaned just six wins.
“From a coaching point of view we want to finish off the year playing the sort of footy that is going to take us into the future,” Demons’ coach Paul Roos said.
High flyer Jeremy Howe will make his 100th appearance for Melbourne, but is coming off contract and hasn’t indicated whether he will stay at the club.