FOR SHANE Edwards, the Richmond premiership success of two of the past three seasons, combined with a shock failure in between, allows a simple luxury as he enters the 2020 Toyota AFL Finals Series.
It is the ability to block out thoughts and emotions which just don't matter in the lead-in to a finals series, and to focus on the ones that do.
WHO'S MOVING? All the latest trade and contract news
The 2017-2018-2019 experiences have provided the Tigers with lessons unmatched by their seven rivals in the 2020 finals series – the 2017 premiership coming amid a whirl of emotion attached to 37 years of flag failure and the 2019 victory arriving a season after being ambushed in a preliminary final.
Edwards, who played his first match since round five in Richmond's round 18 win against Adelaide, said being able to draw on the outcomes of those three seasons was mind-settling as he prepared for Friday's qualifying final against Brisbane and the events beyond it.
"Now I'm able to visualise what it's going to be like, and I suppose the more finals you play, the more you can visualise," Edwards told AFL.com.au.
"And the other thing is, you don't really put too many thoughts into things that don't matter. We're saving a lot of thoughts that don’t mean anything right now throughout this week and by the time you actually get to the game, you haven't drained yourself on what could be.
INDICATIVE DRAFT ORDER Check out your club's picks
"It takes the whole year to prepare for it. If I think back to 2017, we had the benefit of being the underdog and of having a raw emotion of just being in the finals. We don't have that any more, with expectations."
Richmond's opponent on Friday night at the Gabba will have a far different psychological preparation for the qualifying final, due to its losses to the Tigers in round 23 last year, again the following week in the same second-versus-third first week final, and in round 10 this season when it managed a horrendously inaccurate 4.17 in a 41-point loss.
Those latter two matches saw Brisbane kick a combined 12.34 (it was 8.17 to 18.4 in the 2019 preliminary final), a statistic and scenario which, unlike Edwards and Richmond, would seemingly be menacingly bouncing around at least in the backs of the minds of Lions players.
Of the eight teams in the 2020 finals, three – the Tigers, Eagles and Bulldogs – have secured recent premierships. According to Edwards, though, it was the 2018 season, ended for the Tigers after a Mason Cox blitz for Collingwood in a preliminary final, which rounded out the gamut of finals teachings.
WHO'S LEAVING? Your club's retirements and delistings
"Having the 2018 experience has also probably helped the way we go about things as well, as unfortunate as that was for us," Edwards said.
"Seeing it go wrong, and seeing it go right gives us a well-rounded experience, knowing that if you're just 10 minutes off in any given quarter can end your whole season, no matter how well you've done everything else.
"Little things like that. We didn’t know that in 2017, didn't know that in 2018, but in 2019 we definitely knew it. It is a just a little thing you add to what we're doing. We're playing teams that have been in the finals a lot, so it's not as though it's our little secret, everyone knows it, but it's who executes the best."
Edwards said while his thoughts were under control, his drive to win another premiership was as fierce as pre-2017.
"Honestly, we are as hungry as we've ever been, personally it feels like we are going into 2017 again, and it's kind of like we're an underdog given what we've been through, and no matter what favouritism there is out there, it feels to me that there are teams out there as easily as good as we are," he said.
"And no matter what we have won, we want this one as much as the others."