Melbourne coach Paul Roos has cautioned success-starved fans against expecting too much too soon from his young AFL side.
The Demons sit ninth on the ladder and remain a highly-unlikely chance of sneaking into the top eight this year.
They could return to finals for the first time since 2006 if they defeat Carlton and Geelong, while eight-placed North Melbourne would need to lose to Sydney and Greater Western Sydney.
The Demons, who have won three on the trot including an upset over flag favourites Hawthorn, would also need to bridge a percentage gap of 3.7.
Roos noted on Wednesday that his charges were rightly excited about playing meaningful football so close to September.
But the 53-year-old, who will hand the reins over to Simon Goodwin at season’s end, was circumspect regarding the Demons’ prospects in 2017.
“There’s going to be a period of success. Exactly when we play finals, I can’t give that assurance,” Roos said.
“I think they (fans) still understand we’re a really young team. We even have to remind ourselves of that as well.
“All but about twice this year, against our opposition we’ve been younger. On about 12 or 13 occasions we’ve been the youngest team in the competition on that weekend.
“We’re hoping there is an enormous amount of improvement (left) and there is. But we’re just not sure (when it will happen) … it’s a great list so it’s pretty exciting.”
Gun ruckman Max Gawn and influential midfielders Jack Viney and Dom Tyson have all played less than 70 matches.
Young forward Jesse Hogan and other recent draftees are yet to hit the 50-game mark.
Roos suggested every player at the club will learn plenty from the final two rounds of the season but they must only worry about defeating Carlton at the MCG on Sunday.
“For this young group, everything’s an opportunity,” he said.
“It’s great external noise (being a finals chance). It just means you’re playing some good footy.
“Last time we played Carlton we got beaten so that’s got to be our real focus.”
Roos added he was ready to end his coaching career.
“I’m so pleased. Goody is going to be an amazing coach and the club’s in really good hands,” he said.
“It’s been a three-year build, there were a whole lot of issues.
“It’s great to be part of it but a lot of other people have done an enormous amount of work to get the club back to where it is.”
Meanwhile, Roos was confident Jeff Garlett (skin infection) would train on Friday and be fit to face his former side.