Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has admitted talk of AFL finals football is consuming Whitten Oval.
And against Melbourne on Sunday they can take an almighty leap towards securing a date in September.
The Bulldogs are shooting for their seventh-straight win at Etihad Stadium to rack up their 13th in an unlikely rise to the AFL’s top four.
Since moving to a top-eight system, no side has missed finals with 13 wins – save for Essendon’s expulsion in 2013.
After defeating Port Adelaide last week, Beveridge said he wouldn’t be talking about finals football without making sure the Bulldogs would be taking part.
But ahead of their second meeting with the Demons in 2015, he said the motivational lure of playing in the finals was strong.
“We are doing our best not to (but) everyone’s thinking about it, it’s just there,” he said.
“We’re still a mathematical change to miss out on the whole lot.
“We want to chalk up win after win to make sure we’re in there.”
Against Melbourne, the Bulldogs are also after revenge.
In their reverse fixture, Paul Roos’ side comfortably accounted for the Bulldogs by 39 points.
Beveridge suggested he’d given his side an almighty spray after the round-eight loss, and that his team were driven to put it right.
“It was probably the one game when we felt like we didn’t get an even contribution and they know that,” he said.
“They beat us up around the footy last time.
“We keep trying to look forward but that’s in the memory banks.
“Which is great because it will really keep us on the edge to help us understand that the Demons best is very, very good.”
Melbourne have lost Dom Tyson (hamstring) for the match, and planned to recall Christian Salem only for the 20-year-old to fall ill.
Rohan Bail was named as his late replacement.
The Bulldogs have returned captain Bob Murphy at Bailey Dale’s expense.
Veteran defender Murphy was given a rest last week but Beveridge said he wouldn’t be rotating any of the Dogs’ younger bodies to keep them fresh with finals around the corner.
“We’ve managed the group pretty well, most of our players have missed a game,” he said.
“That’s not by any great design to get us to the end of the year, it’s just reading the cues health-wise.”