Hawthorn midfielder Isaac Smith insists his AFL side are still sitting pretty as they prepare for the business end of a tilt at history.
The Hawks face Geelong in a qualifying final at the MCG next Friday as they seek to win a fourth consecutive premiership.
It is a feat that has only been achieved once in the VFL/AFL, by Collingwood in 1927-30.
Hawthorn have been far from convincing in their past four games – losses to Melbourne and West Coast, an easy win over North Melbourne and a one-point triumph over Collingwood.
But the dramatic victory at the MCG on Sunday ensured the Hawks would finish in the top four and that achievement shouldn’t be sneered at.
“You’re always in a good spot to have a crack at it when you’re top four. You get the second chance,” Smith said.
“We’re in as good a spot as anyone in the top four.
“A finals series is completely different .. the season’s over, you regroup and just try to get things done.
“We’ve just got to bring our A game. We probably didn’t bring that against Collingwood.”
Hawthorn have won three of their past four finals against Geelong, including the 2008 grand final.
The two rivals have produced some memorable matches in recent years and Smith predicted more of the same in week one of the finals.
“They were pretty good on Saturday. They won by 100 points. We’re going to have a challenge on our hands but that’s finals,” the three-time premiership winner said.
“We go into every game confident we can win.
“It’ll be good fun. It should be a massive crowd at the ‘G.”
The Cats are coming off a seven-match winning streak, having crushed Melbourne by 111 points in the final round of the season.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson acknowledged his side will need to lift if they’re to defeat Geelong.
“They were pretty impressive .. if the two sides play to the form that they did this weekend then it’s going to be pretty hard to knock off the Cats,” Clarkson said.
“But it’s a different weekend, different game .. we’ll have to play a bit better (to win).”
Collingwood fell one goal short of a victory that would have consigned Hawthorn to an elimination final against Western Bulldogs.
The Magpies booted four consecutive goals on Sunday to hit the front with a tick under three minutes remaining.
“I’m not too sure (what went wrong) .. it wasn’t good to watch,” Smith said.
“They’ve got a pretty good midfield group that just took the game on … it was just good to win.”