The two sides met in a preliminary final in 2006 but the recent tussles between the Dockers and Swans have been tight arm wrestles with the last four matches being decided by 13-points or less, including the draw in round eight this season.
Pavlich believes his side is ready for one of the toughest tests of his career.
"You admire a lot of teams in the AFL but certainly Sydney, their culture, leaders, the way they go about their business, we very much respect what they're about," Pavlich said.
"And that's why we're preparing ourselves for what we call footy war, because it's going to go until the end.
"They are contested, big-bodied players. What they're about is exactly what we'd like to be about as well. We understand how hard a game it's going to be."
The Dockers completed their main training session on Thursday morning ahead of Saturday's encounter.
Pavlich praised the work of his coaching staff for getting his side into this position.
"Ross (Lyon) is the best coach I've played under, but a lot goes unsaid about Mark Stone, Brett Kirk, Peter Sumich, Michael Prior and the rest of the coaching group," Pavlich said.
"They've done a power of work to get us to this position and give us an opportunity."
Lyon, Kirk and Stone have all been involved with the Swans during the successful era that began in 2005.
Pavlich believes the Dockers won't gain any extra advantage from that knowledge with the exception of maybe some intelligence on particular players.
"Probably to a few individuals but to the broader game plan, probably not," Pavlich said.
"Both (Kirk) and Mark have been away from the club now for a number of years, so the IP as such is probably gone.
"But the individuals, they probably know quite well and I'm sure they'll share the knowledge."
Pavlich understands the enormity of Saturday night's encounter in terms of the club's history.
"I think we recognise and acknowledge that it's a big moment for the club," Pavlich said.
"We may win, we may lose, but as long as we can look each other in the eye after the game and say 'we gave it our all', we'll at least be able to move forward as a group.
"We want to win, that will be the ideal result."