GEELONG'S chances of snaring star free agent Patrick Dangerfield have undoubtedly risen after its recent form spike.
The Cats have shaped as the main – and perhaps only – threat to Adelaide re-signing Dangerfield since last year's trade period.
Geelong's trump card is that it's just 50km away from Dangerfield's family home in Moggs Creek.
But the two-time All Australian made it clear at the start of last season that the governing factor in his decision would be on-field success.
So after this season's opening four rounds, the 25-year-old Victorian must have seriously questioned whether he wanted to spend the second half of his football career at Geelong.
At the time, the Cats had won just one game, over the then-winless Gold Coast in round three.
They had also been belted by top-four heavies Hawthorn and Fremantle, and narrowly beaten by North Melbourne, the latter two losses coming at Simonds Stadium, where they had dropped just four games in the previous eight seasons.
Industry sources suggested around this time that Dangerfield was wavering and could consider a move to other Victorian teams such as Hawthorn and Collingwood.
So the Cats' vastly improved form since the Kangaroos loss has been opportune.
Since round four, they have won five of seven games, beating finals contenders Richmond, Collingwood and Port Adelaide, and thrashing battling Carlton and Essendon teams by more than 11 goals.
The Cats were scratchy in round five against the Tigers, but seemed to turn the corner the following week when they thumped the Magpies by 41 points.
Last Friday night, they played perhaps their best match of the year, beating Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval in a game the home team had declared was a "must win".
These performances would have given Dangerfield comfort that the Cats' list is in pretty good shape.
Geelong is not the premiership force it once was – its comprehensive away losses to the Sydney Swans and West Coast in rounds seven and nine were firm reminders of that – but it has an emerging core of players that could give the club a chance at more flag glory before Dangerfield hangs up the boots.
The club's first picks in the drafts of 2012, Jackson Thurlow, and 2013, Darcy Lang, have taken impressive steps this season, while 2014 draftees Nakia Cockatoo and Cory Gregson have shown signs of star qualities.
Looking at the Cats' midfield stocks in the 22-24 age bracket, the likes of Mitch Duncan, Josh Caddy, Cameron Guthrie, George Horlin-Smith and Jordan Murdoch should give Dangerfield comfort that he won't lack support when premiership stars such as Jimmy Bartel, Steve Johnson, James Kelly and Mathew Stokes retire.
In making his decision, Dangerfield will factor-in the Cats' increased willingness to go after ready-made players via free agency and trades in recent seasons.
Last year, they snared Rhys Stanley (St Kilda) and Mitch Clark (Melbourne) at the trade table.
This year, in addition to Dangerfield, they are understood to be targeting Carlton tall Lachie Henderson, West Coast midfielder Scott Selwood and a ruckman.
If the Cats secure Dangerfield and Henderson – and hang on to free agent Tom Hawkins and out-of-contract forward Steven Motlop – they could make a serious assault on the top-four again as early as next season.
This prospect could be too much for the Victorian to ignore.