GEELONG hasn't yet proved itself as one of the best teams in the competition ahead of another tilt at a flag, according to coach Chris Scott.
The Cats scrounged their way over the line against Sydney on Sunday by six points to land a top-four berth.
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But despite locking in a qualifying final spot after a consistent season that included a six-game winning streak, Scott said his team still had a way to go as it searches for its first premiership since 2011.
After a slow start that saw Sydney take the early lead and stay ahead by 17 points deep into the third quarter before the Patrick Dangerfield-inspired Cats fought back, the Geelong premiership coach said his side had some way to go.
"I'm not saying we took anything for granted, but as soon as you are a little bit off, I think the gap between the best and the rest becomes pretty small. I'm not even convinced we're in the best just yet, but we have got the opportunity to prove that," he said.
The performance followed Geelong's struggles last week against Richmond, but Scott said after a frustrating start he was pleased his team had tightened up defensively and restricted the Swans.
With Gary Ablett (16 disposals and a goal) returning in strong form and Joel Selwood (16 disposals) recovering from a heavy clash to be an important contributor late, the Cats got over the line to secure an important double chance.
"We've certainly seen some ebbs and flows. There's no team that's been dominant all season. There are a couple of teams that are hitting their straps now, and I think we've been pretty good over the last half of the year," Scott said.
"But again, I don't think that counts for much. All the individuals and clubs who have had success in the AFL will say you have to work really, really, really hard to get yourself into a position where you can contend at the end of the year, then unfortunately it all starts again.
"You don't get any credits except for the obvious benefit of being in the top four. That will be our attitude. We have to start again now. We've earned the right to get to the starting line, but now we have to do what we can to deliver."
Ruckman Rhys Stanley is expected to be available from his groin injury for the first week of the finals.
Swans coach John Longmire was pleased with his side's endeavour against an experienced Cats outfit with plenty on the line.
However, he put it on his side to continue its growth and ensure the club took "the next step" in 2021 and not be comfortable with bottom-four finishes on the ladder.
"I tell the players not to be patient. Be like the coach, be impatient. Hopefully our players are impatient. There's nothing wrong with being impatient," Longmire said.
"If that's what drives you as an individual to get back there, and drives you as a team, that's OK. Just because we've got a few young fellas in the team, doesn't mean you can't be driving the standards of the ground. That's our next step."