RECENT history shows if you want to win the premiership, or at least reach the last Saturday in September, your final month of the home and away season better be a good one.

Young Lion Cam Rayner summed it up perfectly earlier in the week when he said: "Teams that go deep tend to find their best form around now."

Since the AFL became an 18-team competition in 2012, we've seen 10 Grand Finals, and the final four rounds have proven a great indicator of future success.

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Of those 10 premiers, nine have won at least three of their last four matches heading into finals.

Hawthorn (2013), Richmond (2019 and 2020) and Melbourne (2021) have swept into September with the perfect month of footy.

Taylor Duryea, Luke Breust, Jordan Lewis, Isaac Smith and Luke Hodge after the R23 clash between Hawthorn and Sydney in 2013. Picture: AFL Photos

Only one team – Sydney in 2012 – bucked the trend, winning just once over the final month.

That year the Swans lost to fellow top-four teams Collingwood and Hawthorn, narrowly, along with sixth-placed Geelong, before regrouping to win John Longmire's first premiership as coach.

Of the 10 runners-up, seven won at least three matches, with Hawthorn (2012) and Sydney (2016) winning all four.

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That's a total of 16 of the past 20 Grand Finalists winning at least three of their final four matches.

There's always outliers though.

We only have to look back 12 months to remember the Western Bulldogs losing their final three matches and slipping out of the four, before getting on a roll to make the decider.

The Western Bulldogs run through the banner ahead of the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final at Optus Stadium on September 25. Picture: AFL Photos

In 2017, Adelaide, with the minor premiership already wrapped up, lost its last two matches, as did Greater Western Sydney before its memorable march in 2019.

Although form is not an absolute precursor to success in September, the evidence is clear momentum into finals is usually important if you want the ultimate success.