Tom Hawkins celebrates a goal during the R3 clash between Geelong and Collingwood at the MCG on April 2, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

CHRIS Scott has grown tired of questions around Geelong's horror record in the first week of finals campaigns.

It's a cross the Cats coach must bear, having successfully navigated a September opener just once in nine attempts over the last decade.

But a near-perfect preparation this time around has Geelong primed to reverse the trend in Saturday's qualifying final against Collingwood.

"It gives us a lot of confidence," Scott said of the minor premiers' march towards September.

Chris Scott looks on during a Geelong training session at GMHBA Stadium on August 24, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"If we sat down and tried to forecast what the perfect preparation would be, we couldn't have come up with much better than this.

"Everything that's been within our control has been handled really well, so without being perfect, we go in feeling like we can play our best footy.

"(But) if you think that everything's going to be perfect and easy then you're kidding yourself, and you're going to be shocked when you confront the inevitable."

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Not much has gone wrong for Geelong of late.

The flag favourites finished two games clear on top of the ladder, ride a 13-match winning streak into the finals and are almost fully fit.

First-choice ruckman Rhys Stanley and star duo Jeremy Cameron and Mitch Duncan have all been named to return from injuries against Collingwood, which has regained tough midfielder Taylor Adams.

Jeremy Cameron in action during a Geelong training session at GMHBA Stadium on August 24, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

But Scott won't be lulled into a false sense of security.

The 46-year-old is wary of the never-say-die Magpies, who have won 12 of their last 13 games under the guidance of his former Brisbane Lions premiership teammate Craig McRae.

Collingwood has been this year's comeback kings, regularly hanging tough and fighting back to win tight matches when key statistical indicators have suggested it should be gone.

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"We know clearly that even if the game's going OK for us, if nothing else, they've shown the capacity to not give up," Scott said.

Geelong's battle-hardened team led by star veterans Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins has vastly more finals experience than Collingwood and are seemingly better equipped to handle the pressure of finals football.

A crowd of about 90,000 fans is expected at the MCG.


But the precocious Magpies, lifted by youthful exuberance in a climb from second-last to the top four this season, have risen to the occasion in a series of blockbusters.

Their ability to stand up on the big stage has buoyed first-year boss McRae ahead of his finals coaching debut.

"We've had huge games - Anzac Day, Queen's Birthday, Carlton game, Essendon again - they're huge crowds and our players have now had a shared experience in that and those games have been tight," McRae said.

"Hopefully at some stage that stacks up but we've got to get our hands on the footy to make the game close.

"Get the game to three-quarter time with a couple of goals in it, we'll be having a bit of fun."