McRae's Magpies set sights on AFL 'Predator' Geelong

Craig McRae has borrowed a line from Arnold Schwarzenegger, via former Brisbane Lions mastermind Leigh Matthews, as he readies Collingwood for a blockbuster season opener against AFL premiers Geelong.

The Magpies-Cats showdown is as 'Hollywood' as it gets in round one, with about 90,000 fans expected at the MCG on Friday night.

McRae has accepted his side's role as underdog but has his sights set on an upset as he prepares for another battle of wits with his former Lions teammate Chris Scott.

"Leigh Matthews used to say, 'If it bleeds, we can kill it'," McRae said, taking the signature quote from Schwarzenegger's 1987 film Predator.

"It might be too early to say that but Chris (Scott) might get a laugh at it.

"But we're in a position, like they are, where we're ready to go.

"I've been watching (Geelong) and it's hard to get a gauge on teams this year but I know when they bounce the ball on Friday night both teams will be ready."

Last time the teams met, Geelong won a thrilling qualifying final by six points.

The Magpies had been kings of close finishes, winning their previous 11 games that were decided by two goals or fewer.

But their luck ran out in September, with heartbreaking losses to the Cats and Sydney (one point) leaving them marginally short of the grand final.

Critics have highlighted the charmed run in justifying their predictions that Collingwood could slide in McRae's second season at the helm.

"The reality is that we have got a good system and we put a lot of time into it because we were in that position so often," McRae said.

"Maybe more than other teams, so we practised those scenarios a lot more than others.

"It did stack up when we needed it and we've continued that this pre-season.

"We didn't shy away from those systems or the set plays if we were behind or in front. We might use a couple of those weapons at different times of the game."

Collingwood's rise from 17th to a preliminary final shocked the league last year and McRae is confident his side has plenty of room for further growth, buoyed by the arrival of off-season recruits Tom Mitchell, Dan McStay, Bobby Hill and Billy Frampton.

But the 49-year-old is quick to point out there is no guarantee of success this year.

"I say to our players we start at 18th like every other team in the competition," McRae said.

"We've got to take the steps and that's a long way away."