CHRIS Fagan won his first AFL game as a senior coach in early 2017, nervously watching Brisbane cling on for a two-point victory over Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.

The man alongside him in the coaches' box that night was another fresh face in Brisbane – football manager David Noble.

It's almost fitting the first time the men will oppose each other as coaches will be on Saturday at Blundstone Arena, in their home state of Tasmania, in Fagan's 100th game at the helm.

Two men that have arguably changed the way coaching apprenticeships are viewed have more in common than meets the eye.

North Melbourne fans can take solace in comparing its current season to the Lions' campaign of 2017.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan with David Noble during a game against Geelong in 2018. Picture: AFL Photos

Fagan began a rebuild, as Noble has with the Kangaroos.

Although Brisbane won on that greasy March night to kick off the new regime, it was a long time before it tasted success again.

In fact, there were nine straight losses after that win over the Suns – many of them heavy.

There was the 52-point defeat to Richmond, an 83-point loss to Port Adelaide, 54-point loss to Sydney and 80-point loss to Adelaide.

All before Brisbane's round 11 bye.

Brisbane players get around Chris Fagan after his first win, round one, 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

On the surface there wasn't a lot of immediate hope. However, Fagan and his team had begun blooding new players, giving glimpses of light to the future.

Best mates and first round draftees Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry made debuts early in the season. Berry was given tagging jobs on some of the competition's best midfielders (most notably Joel Selwood).

Harris Andrews and Darcy Gardiner settled as the two key defenders, while Eric Hipwood played 20 matches at full forward as a 19-year-old.

Veteran Daniel Rich – at that stage entering his ninth season – was moved from the midfield to defence to add leadership and rebound.

Some of those moves were obvious, some not so much, but all of them required patience.

Chris Fagan on the bench during a round four clash between Essendon and Brisbane at the MCG in April, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

Results came in the second half of the season with wins over Fremantle, Essendon, Carlton and the Suns.

Brisbane still finished last in 2017 though, coincidentally losing a final round 'wooden spoon-off' against the Kangaroos.

The framework was set though, and anyone watching the Lions closely knew they were on the long-term improve.

Noble had a front-seat view to the path that took Brisbane all the way to last year's preliminary final. Now it's his turn.

Through 12 rounds the Kangaroos have a win, a draw and 10 losses and a percentage of 61 – often the marker used as a sign of competitiveness.

At the same stage of Fagan's tenure, the Lions' had two wins and 10 losses and a percentage of 69. Not all that different.

North has copped five beatings in excess of 50 points (compared to the Lions' four), with the outlier being the 128-point Good Friday hammering from the Western Bulldogs.

Kangaroos coach David Noble celebrates a win with his players during round nine, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Have a look at Noble's approach though.

Games into draftees Tom Powell and Will Phillips (with a hiccup or two), along with Charlie Lazzaro.

Moving skipper Jack Ziebell to defence, locking in young defender Ben McKay at full-back every week, exposing Tarryn Thomas to more time around the contest.

Look familiar?

Just like Brisbane, the Kangaroos took time to find cohesion, but the progress in the past six weeks – aside from one poor outing against Essendon – has been obvious.

The two clubs, four years apart, are far from identical, but there's enough evidence to suggest the Kangaroos have at least started on a similar rebuilding track.

How Noble coaches against a club he knows intimately will be fascinating, while Fagan will be desperate to mark his century of games with a 50th win – one that would keep the Lions in the top four and the Kangaroos distant at the bottom.