BRISBANE has scaled many peaks in the AFL during the Chris Fagan era, but perhaps Geelong is its Mt Everest.
Since Ash McGrath's 2013 'Miracle on Grass', the only time Brisbane beat the Cats was following another miracle – Lincoln McCarthy's towering mark and goal in the dying minutes in 2019.
Despite victory on that hot Saturday afternoon in a top-of-the-table clash, it's Geelong that has given Fagan's men the biggest headaches since Brisbane's ascension three seasons ago.
Last year the Cats piled on the pain with a seven-goal third quarter at the SCG to win handsomely, and then completely blanketed the Lions in a preliminary final rout.
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In round two Zac Bailey was denied a chance to become a last-minute hero, and although Brisbane should be praised for its terrific final quarter fightback, again it was outplayed for large portions of the night.
"You have to play 120 minutes of tough, hard footy to beat Geelong," Fagan said at his weekly press conference.
"They make you earn every win you get against them.
"They've had the wood on us for a long long time, as have a lot of other teams, and we've been able to meet those challenges."
Until last year's qualifying final triumph, Brisbane had been tormented by Richmond for more than a decade.
Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and Sydney have all beaten them this year, but there's something about the Cats' style that gives the Lions problems.
That something generally stems from around the contest, where the Cats have bullied their younger opponent, enabling them to control the ball and pace of the game.
To be fair, Brisbane has some lighter, inexperienced bodies – Jaxon Prior, Deven Robertson, Keidean Coleman and James Madden all have less than 15 games experience.
The Cats have won the contested ball count by 20, 16 and nine the past three matches and the clearances by seven, four and 13.
It's led to a complete ownership of the ball, winning the disposal count by a whopping 83, 65 and 109.
Following the 27-point loss in round six last year, Brisbane tried to change its mix, bringing in big-bodied Cam Ellis-Yolmen to bolster the midfield for the preliminary final.
While the former Crow started in the forward line in an attempt to nullify the impact of Tom Stewart, he was quickly shifted to the midfield as the Cats got on top.
It made next to no difference.
Then, during the pre-season, the Lions opted to add more speed to its on-ball mix.
In the round two contest, Lincoln McCarthy, Zac Bailey and Charlie Cameron all had stints at the coalface as the Lions looked to unrest the Cats' advantage.
"They're very well coached, they've got an experienced team, they're a strong-bodied team," Fagan said.
"They understand what the big games are like, it comes as second nature to those guys.
"I think Joel Selwood has played more than 30 finals, we've played in four in the last two years and that's probably the extent of our experience.
"We're on the rise and we're learning."
Following its wonky start to 2021 Brisbane went back to what it knows best – Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons and Dayne Zorko around the ball with a few minutes of help from Hugh McCluggage and young bull Robertson.
It's led to a surge of form that sets up a mouth-watering contest at the Gabba against a Cats team that will be missing Mitch Duncan – as it did earlier this year – through injury.
One point that won't have escaped either Fagan or counterpart Chris Scott is the ace Geelong has up its sleeve in Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield.
The midfield superstar spent almost the entire preliminary final stationed in the forward line and was then absent from the early season match with suspension.
His considerable power and weight will be added to the midfield mix at the Gabba.
If Brisbane is to conquer arguably its toughest opponent, owning the ball would be a big head start, but don't expect it to come easy.