Some of it is just theatre but in the case of Pendlebury, Malthouse is a relevant and necessary point of discussion.
He was the coach who drafted Pendlebury in 2005 with the fifth selection overall in the NAB AFL National Draft, and who sensed something wasn’t quite right when he watched the youngster plying his trade on the wing for Williamstown in the first quarter of a VFL game out at Werribee.
"I got drafted as a wingman and I remember him coming out to the huddle at quarter time and saying to me, 'Your career won't last long on the wing. I want you on the ball.'" Pendlebury recalled.
"I credit him with the move on to the ball and I credit him with giving me the confidence to do what I am able to do."
When Malthouse used to refer to the Collingwood playing group as "his boys", Pendlebury was always considered to be front and centre of that group and one of the fascinations ahead of Sunday will be which of the Magpies the new Blues coach will specifically try to shut down.
Although if Malthouse coaches Carlton the way he did Collingwood, that might be nobody.
"He never tagged when he was here. He wasn’t that big on tagging," was Pendlebury's recollection.
Malthouse backed his emerging players to play with confidence and flair and Pendlebury needed little encouragement in that respect.
Under Malthouse he won the Norm Smith Medal in the 2010 Grand Final replay, finished third in the 2011 Brownlow Medal, won that year's Copeland Trophy, finished second twice (he did so again last year) and twice made the All-Australian side.
Nathan Buckley inherited almost the complete footballer. His silky skills, football smarts and even temperament means he almost coaches himself, so the challenge for Buckley was to develop a new wrinkle to his game – leadership.
"He's in the process of improving his leadership and his influence on the playing group, and that's going to be the next evolution for him - to become even more influential and to drive this team and the club to greater success in the future," Buckley said.
"He's gone about it the right way and he's been rewarded," he said.
Buckley lauds Pendlebury for his professionalism.
"He's driven, and when he succeeds or performs at a level there's no satisfaction around it. He's always driven to be better than he was yesterday or this morning and that attitude has got him to where he is."
"Every year you're here you get more comfortable around the place," Pendlebury said. "Early on your footy has to do the talking and you have to prove yourself to the other players.
"But as one of the senior players now I have to get the younger players up to speed. The more ready they are for senior football, the better for the team and the closer you are to winning a flag."
Pendlebury was a standout junior basketballer and represented Victoria through underage ranks.
Watch him play footy and there is a touch of the point guard about him, but there was no 'Sliding Doors' moment, where if we were to project forward he would instead be shooting hoops for a living.
"I still love my basketball and watch a fair bit of it. If you ask my girlfriend, she'd say I watch too much of it.
"I enjoy watching guys I played against and see where they are today but I don't sit back and think about what could have been. I'm pretty focused on the here and now."
"I love playing the game," he said of football. "The preparation every week, the tactical side of it.
"I love playing over at the MCG in front of 90,000 people. There's not much not to like about footy."
Buckley believes Pendlebury could play another 150 games for the Magpies.
"I'd love to," Pendlebury said. "Right now the body feels great, but there might be a few rough years and they might want me out the door."
"But hopefully I can stick around."
Ashley Browne is a senior writer for AFL Media. @afl_hashbrowne