IT HAS taken 11 seasons, 168 games, one life-changing shift from Gold Coast to Melbourne, and some doubt but Steven May is finally ready to play his first final.
Master misers May and Jake Lever have been the impetus for the league's stingiest defence this season - and arguably the Demons' minor premiership and their hopes of securing the club's first flag since 1964.
Star recruits May and Lever have taken markedly different paths to Saturday night's qualifying final against Brisbane at Adelaide Oval.
Lever was part of Adelaide's losing side in the 2017 grand final then joined the Demons, only to watch their run to a 2018 preliminary final from the sidelines because of a knee reconstruction.
May was drafted by the Suns in 2010, became the expansion club's captain then moved south at the end of the 2018 season.
The 29-year-old finally has an ideal platform to push for the premiership he admits formed "probably 90 per cent" of the decision to request a trade to the Demons.
"I can't wait. I'm glad there is no finals bye and we get straight into it," May said.
"We've built some really good foundations in the last couple of years to not only just play in a finals series but try and win one.
"We've built some resilience, have a really stable game plan and a really healthy list, so we don't have any excuses."
May's first season as a Demon was derailed by injury, while club great Garry Lyon was among those to criticise the key defender's fitness and decision to drink at a pub while recovering from a groin strain.
May, fresh from a stirring after-the-siren win over third-placed Geelong, admitted on Monday that he'd previously harboured some doubt about whether relocating to Melbourne was the right call.
"That first year we came 17th, I missed about 12 weeks through injury. It did not go to script," he said.
"It didn't go as planned in the first few years, for a range of reasons, but I've developed as a person and our team has developed.
"It kind of feels like I'm getting a bit of reward for my decision but it doesn't really mean much until you're ultimately holding up the cup."
Lever argued his side were better equipped to deal with the unique pressure associated with finals, compared to 2018.
The 25-year-old added he and May are ready for the Lions and other finalists to do everything possible to pick apart their defensive partnership and capacity to clutch intercept marks.
"In 2019 we weren't able to get on the park much together, 2020 was about building chemistry," Lever said.
"This pre-season we clicked.
"The good thing is there's two of us ... (also) Christian Salem, now we've got Harry Petty up and running. We've got a few weapons down back that teams are going to have to worry about."