WIN, LOSE or draw against Port Adelaide on Friday night in what shapes as one of the primetime matches of the season, Geelong will again be thereabouts in the 2020 premiership race.

Simply, it is what this club does – go all-in on winning the flag, every single year.

No rebuild programs for the Cats, even though they have been prepared to give 21 players a debut AFL game in this and the previous three seasons. No re-set years. No moping over missed opportunities. Just an old-fashioned, simple commitment to put everything on the line – on and off field. 

In the eight completed seasons since it last won a premiership, Geelong has missed finals just once – 2015, and even that season was, as they would say in American sports, a "winning" year given the Cats won 11 of the 21 matches they played (a game scheduled against the Crows was not played). 

Yes, the Cats have been disappointing in some of those finals series – a straight sets exit in 2014, a 10-goal preliminary final loss to the Crows in 2017, a first-week exit in 2018. 

But, equally, they've had some heartache and inability-to-capitalise-on-opportunity results, including a five-point preliminary final loss in 2013 to eventual premier Hawthorn, and a 19-point loss in the corresponding match last year, also against a team (Richmond) which went on to win the Grand Final, after butchering a 21-point half-time lead. 

06:47 Mins
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Highlights: Richmond v Geelong

The Tigers and Cats clash in the second preliminary final

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If anyone wants to say that playing in 15 finals, and finishing third on four occasions (2013, 2016, 2017, 2019) in eight seasons is failure, well, they are delusional. 

The established, genuine durability of Geelong, and its preparedness to brush itself off each season to mount yet another challenge may just place it above all others in this most trying of seasons. 

They operate with a minimum of fuss, the Cats. Even when they could have secured Patrick Dangerfield as a free agent at the end of 2015, they chose to use first and second-round draft picks as part of the exchange with the Crows, because they felt it the right thing to do. 

Though it will change this year after receiving a trade bounty in losing Tim Kelly to West Coast at the end of 2019, Geelong has not been able to access the high-end picks in national drafts. Not since 2006 when it used pick seven on Joel Selwood has it had a top-10 selection, yet it has still succeeded in adding extraordinary talent to its list through clever scouting and trading. 

One of the biggest drivers in this 2020 Cats surge has been the improvement within. Sam Menegola, Cam Guthrie, Mark O'Connor and Jed Bews are compiling very solid seasons, as is Brandan Parfitt. 

00:38 Mins
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Snazzy lefty perfect from Parfitt

The Cats extend their narrow lead after a clever snap goal from Brandan Parfitt

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Mitch Duncan is deserving of the Virgin Australia AFL All-Australian jacket he probably should have already received. When fit, Rhys Stanley is holding his own in the long-troubled problem position for the Cats, the ruck. The "old men" down back, Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson, are again crucial to operations. 

And of course, Dangerfield, Selwood, Tom Hawkins, Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart and Zach Tuohy have, as always, been influential in proceedings. 

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Gary Ablett, whose form in his 19th season in the AFL was very, very good before stepping aside for personal reasons, will return. 

One name that might yet become an X-Factor is ex-Crow Josh Jenkins. Yet to play a game as a Cat, Jenkins may be ready to go as early as round 13. Some Cats people are saying the same about Nakia Cockatoo, but given his constant injury problems, nothing is certain there.

In February this year, when asked to reflect on the two quarters of football that followed the Cats' 21-point half-time lead against the Tigers in last year's preliminary final, Scott initially said it would "take a long time to get over" before amending his answer to "never getting over it". 

"I'm not a big believer that you can make amends for lost opportunity," Scott told

There it is, the attitude that drives the Cats every single season. There is always the now to take care of, and this seasoned bunch of footballers and coaches – hardened and shaped by regular finals campaigns – presents as well equipped as any team to deal with the carnage of 2020.