IN ONE sense, Brian Lake and Shaun Burgoyne have much in common.

Both established themselves as stars of the competition at rival clubs, before crossing to Hawthorn in search of premiership glory. 

And both now stand just one win from achieving it.

In another sense, they are far apart.

This weekend's Grand Final will be Burgoyne's fourth, having played in two with Port Adelaide for one win and one loss, and in the Hawks' loss to the Sydney Swans last year.

After an 11-year career at the Western Bulldogs that resulted in three preliminary final defeats, Lake has reached the last Saturday in September for the first time.

He will be one of either three or four Hawks – depending on who replaces the injured Brendan Whitecross in this week's team – playing in his first Grand Final, and admits the experience so far has been "surreal".

Although the decision to leave the Bulldogs was difficult, it is now appearing well worthwhile.

"You could say the plan has gone to script so far, but there's still one week to go," Lake said on Monday. 

"It wasn't easy. 

"You get on in age – I'm 31 – and at the Dogs I thought I wasn't going to get this opportunity. 

"I needed to make a decision so I could experience this, because that's what we play football for. 

"Coming into this week, it's been a pretty good decision."

While Lake and a handful of others will be novices, the Hawks will take far more Grand Final experience into the game than Fremantle, a club playing in its first decider.

Burgoyne felt it would provide the minor premier with a clear advantage.

"It's one thing to make a Grand Final and another to win it," he said.

"Last year probably taught me you've got to dig a bit deeper and pull something out; push yourself to where you haven't been mentally and physically before. 

"I think going through the process, which some of our younger players went through [for the first time] last year, it definitely gives you an understanding of what to expect throughout the week. 

"It can be distracting if you allow it to be, but it's a fun week as well. 

"We've got a number of players who have been in this situation before, so hopefully they've gained that experience last year and when they're at home by themselves, they can take a bit of confidence from being through the process. 

"It's definitely a positive."