Experienced Cats know what lies ahead in flag defence
The milestone that dogged Geelong for the better part of a decade now inspires the Cats' AFL premiership defence.
New captain Patrick Dangerfield said all those years of falling short means the Cats lack nothing for perspective as they try to go back-to-back.
Geelong's only successive premierships were in 1951-52.
The Cats have missed the finals only once since coach Chris Scott took over in 2011.
But after they won the '11 flag, Geelong had a number of disappointing finals losses - a record that is now history following last year's grand final mauling of Sydney.
Still, it leaves Dangerfield and his teammates acutely aware they can take nothing for granted.
"The feeling from us has always been that we feel like we're good enough. You need a lot to go right, you need luck," he said.
"It doesn't happen in every year. There's only one team out of 18 that truly feel totally satisfied with what they've achieved.
"We've been fortunate to be in that position when we've gotten there, but we've also had, in my time at the Cats, the (six) years prior - we've faltered on the last day or the days leading up to it.
"We're pretty pragmatic on the fact that we've had plenty of stuff go right for us and we've had times when it hasn't gone right. We don't feel like we're any better than anyone else."
Dangerfield then pondered whether Geelong feel better prepared, given they are the reigning premiers and their hard-earned finals lessons.
"Well, we know what it feels like now ... which is nice," he said.
"But once again, there's change from what was last year to this year and there will be that again. Nothing ever stays the same."
One of the obvious changes at Geelong is Joel Selwood's retirement and Dangerfield taking over from him as captain.
He is one of several new AFL captains this season and easily the most experienced among them.
Dangerfield also is blessed with plenty of experienced teammates who also offer strong leadership.
"We've got about 10 players who have all played about 250-plus games on our list," he said.
"While it might sit as captain ... our leadership is far greater-reaching than just myself and Tom (vice-captain Tom Stewart).
"We have just such a huge group of leaders - and across every line. It makes our job really quite easy."
Dangerfield was asked what differences he is noticing as the new skipper.
"When I talk, people have to listen. That didn't happen before, they could just walk off," he said.
More seriously, Dangerfield says last year's big grand final win is a special memory.
"We can walk and chew at the same time," he said.
"We can reflect and acknowledge it was a great year, a wonderful win and still focus on what we know is ahead, absolutely.
"There aren't too many days that go by where there isn't just a fleeting moment here or there - that was a pretty special thing to be a part of.
"So much of the driving factor is for our guys who didn't get to experience it - you want that feeling for them."