1. Does Alastair Clarkson keep the faith?

The Hawthorn coach talked after the West Coast loss about keeping faith in the players who had won six straight finals (and two flags) the last two seasons, and back on the MCG on Friday night against Adelaide, it seems the right approach. It is Hawthorn's home ground; the team is built to play there.

But that is not to say that they won't be burning the midnight oil at match committee this week. For starters, they will almost certainly need to find another forward to replace Jack Gunston, whose leg injury will almost certainly keep him out for this week and perhaps a bit longer.

Does the coltish James Sicily get another look in, or does the more experienced Ryan Schoenmakers come in to play as a permanent forward?

Hawk fans have been baying for the blood of James Frawley since Friday night. Granted, he had a dirty night, but he had a few mates. Do the Hawks roll the dice with the willing, but slightly underdone Matt Spangher? Spangher always brings effort and how's this for a statistic? The Hawks have won 22 of the 23 matches he has played for the club.

With Adelaide's forward structure revolving around Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins, the Hawks will need the traditional two key defenders to stand them.

Isaac Smith didn't give much on Friday night after overcoming a knee injury to play, so care will be given to how he recovers this week. Billy Hartung was unlucky not to play last week and will offer some zip this week. He worked as hard in his pre-flight, post-match run around Domain Stadium as some of his teammates during the match.

A few Hawks have been killing it at Box Hill this year, particularly Jed Anderson and Jon Simpkin, but it would be a major surprise if they played on Friday night. Look for Clarkson to stick fat with those who have delivered so much for the Hawks in seasons past. 

But they need to lift. Not since the round 16 hammering of the Sydney Swans at ANZ Stadium have the Hawks played anywhere near their best football. It needs to return this Friday night against Adelaide, which is playing with run, spark and with nothing to lose.

2. Can the Crows get first hands on the footy?

You can't help but love the Adelaide Football Club story in 2015. The Crows are three wins away from the best Australian sports story ever told and what would surely make a cracking movie. The Hemsworth boys played footy back in the day. One of them could be cast as Tex Walker.

But the romance aside, there is a fair case to argue that the Crows dodged a bullet on Saturday night. The Western Bulldogs couldn't hit the side of a barn for much of the night whereas at one stage, the Crows couldn't miss – converting 10 set shots on the trot. The Dogs finished with 14.18, as inaccurate as they have been all year.

And Adelaide will need to be better at clearances, as mentioned by Scott Camporeale after the match. The Bulldogs had the clear edge in clearances (46-26), centre clearances (17-8) and stoppages (29-18).

Against West Coast, Hawthorn didn't do a whole lot right, but the Hawks curbed the influence of Nic Naitanui to a reasonable degree with the edge (50-40) in clearances and (15-8) in centre clearances.

Walker and Jenkins loom large in this game for Adelaide, but Sam Jacobs and the Adelaide midfielders have to be really good as well because the experienced and match-hardened Hawks will be ready for them.

3. Does Warwick Capper still have his boots?

It might be getting to that stage for the Sydney Swans. Lance Franklin will miss the North game as he continues to deal with his mental health issues, while Sam Reid tore his hamstring against Fremantle on Saturday and won't play again this year.

This leaves a massive hole for the Swans as they seek to stay alive in 2015 and win their way through to another preliminary final – and another trip to Perth – in a fortnight's time.

The obvious solution is to for Kurt Tippett to play closer to goal for longer periods than he has recently when he has also spent time in the ruck. Adam Goodes is another who will likely see less time on ball and more in the forward line. The return of Nick Smith from a hamstring injury may free a player to add to the midfield mix and at least allows John Longmire the option of throwing Goodes forward.

A bonus for the Swans is the form of emerging key forward Dean Towers, who, with 15 disposals, seven marks and a goal, was able to provide some sort of focal point.

James Rose and Toby Nankervis are other forward options for the Swans to consider as they do their planning for the Kangas on Saturday night.

But all is not lost for the Swans. They won the inside 50 count 53-41 and the tackle count 83-52 against Fremantle, had 12 more inside 50s and six more scoring shots. Some of their forward entries and their conversion were diabolical, but the endeavour and the work rate was first class.

And Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery were herculean through the midfield once more, as depleted as it was.

The Swans lost few admirers on Saturday and the reward of the double chance is a home final next week. It is an advantage they need to milk for all it is worth. 

4. Who's the bigger genius at North Melbourne? Coach Brad Scott or list manager Cameron Joyce?

Both will be calling for the bragging rights at Arden Street this week and both are entitled to take a bow.

Scott took enormous heat for resting half his side for the meaningless round 23 game against Richmond last Friday night, but the scoreboard and the match stats clearly show that the Kangaroos had more run in the second half of the match.

The rules allowed Scott to take the steps he took and the end justified the means. He can look at the massive contributions made by Brent Harvey (a game-leading 31 possessions) and Jarrad Waite (four goals) and feel comfortable that their ability to run the game out played a huge part in the elimination final win over Richmond.

Joyce helped deliver Waite and Shaun Higgins to the club. There were some early issues with Waite and he again got himself reported early in the year in this, his first season since crossing from Carlton, but he has been a fine contributor since then and was great against the Tigers with eight marks and his four goals. He, Drew Petrie and Ben Brown will cause some headaches for the Sydney Swans on Saturday night.

Higgins was talented and injury-prone at the Bulldogs, but sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery. He has proved his worth to the Kangas in spades since joining the club this year, but his estimation among North types would have gone up even further after playing so well after that bone-jarring collision with Dylan Grimes in the first quarter.

A theme of both semi-finals this week will be about redemption. The Crows haven't forgotten their five-point loss to Hawthorn in the 2012 preliminary final, and the Kangaroos are still anguished over their lame 71-point loss to the Swans in last year's preliminary final.

The Crows are riding a wave of emotion and are playing like a side with nothing to lose. North is simply playing very well and will head to ANZ Stadium with enormous confidence.