ST KILDA is all about climbing the ladders and banishing the snakes.

A four-game winning streak has it well-positioned at fourth on the AFL ladder ahead of Friday night's Canberra match against GWS.

It's another test for the emerging Saints, especially with Giants matchwinner Toby Greene returning from his six-game suspension and undoubtedly primed to wreak havoc.

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Their strong start to this season has its roots midway through last year, when they were 5-7 on the way to a disappointing 10th-placed finish.

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All players and staff were called into a meeting where some home truths were laid bare during their trip to Sydney and Cairns, which yielded close losses to the Swans and Adelaide.

"We were lot like snakes and ladders last year, in the early part," coach Brett Ratten said.

Brett Ratten looks on during he R2 clash between St Kilda and Fremantle at Optus Stadium on March 27, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"We'd take two steps forward and one back. It was the way we were going about it.

"So it was just a good break, pause, to just to reflect."

Ratten said the meeting was planned for midway through the Sydney-Cairns trip and happened regardless of the Swans loss, with Saints football staffers David Rath and Ben Robbins leading the agenda.

"There's a big body of work that happened ... around that conversation and what we wanted to stand for, what we were going to focus on," Ratten said.

"(It) hasn't deviated since that conversation and it's gone through the pre-season.

St Kilda and Sydney players contest the ball during the round 12 clash on June 5, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"The conversation was pivotal. But we probably haven't strayed too far from that conversation, with our focuses and what we're aiming to do.

"It showed some gaps in our performances, not just on the field."

There was plenty of focus again on the Saints and Ratten after their round one loss to Collingwood, but the perception is much brighter now.

Even Ratten's spell in COVID-19 isolation last weekend did not prove a problem, with Brendon Lade coaching them to the win over Gold Coast.

But Ratten, channelling his great coaching mentor David Parkin, will have nothing of talk that the Saints are on their way.

"It's always an issue, when you're the coach," he said.

"You're never as good as you think you are and you're never as bad as you think you are.

"I don't get caught up in it."

Likewise, Ratten at first played down the significance of Greene's return, before acknowledging the threat he poses.

"A great player, but he's one of 22 for them ... it will just be another challenge," he said.

"The big thing is, he's been out for six weeks. He has to front up and play and the pressure will be hot.

"But he is a star ... it might not be about quantity for him, it might be just all quality and that's what he is."

Jimmy Webster will return from his COVID-19 absence, but the virus has delayed Zak Jones' comeback after he made an impressive comeback last weekend in the VFL.