Game day in Perth, where North Melbourne can potentially jump as high as fifth with a win against Fremantle at Optus Stadium.
And as someone still scarred by both close losses in this matchup last season, please no close game again today.
You can subscribe to The Shinboner via email on your right (on desktop) or below this post (on mobile). If you’re on Twitter you can follow me @rickm18 and to share this post on social media, you can use any of the buttons at the bottom of this post.
How long will it take North to adjust to Optus Stadium?
Interstate sides have won only one of nine first quarters this season, and even that was by just five points because of some Buddy brilliance.
North enjoys the better of conditions three times a year in Hobart. Because of that, it should be able to recognise just how important the start is, simply to stick with Fremantle while the 22 settles in.
As much as a training session on Saturday would have helped acclimatise, it can only do so much when you’re in the cauldron and a match situation. Heading into the first change with the scores close to level would be a massive plus in the bigger picture.
(Note: Feel free to disregard this when North leads 2.7 to 3.0 at quarter time.)
Is North too tall down back?
At the risk of this becoming a recurring theme seemingly every fortnight, three genuine talls against Fremantle in forecast wet conditions seems excessive.
To take a step back and think bigger picture, I’m a big believer in giving inexperienced players a chance in the best possible situation if it presents.
Assuming Sam Durdin has been brought in to play Majak Daw’s role as a direct swap, that role may not exist with the ball spending more time on the ground in the wet.
The plan may be to play Durdin on someone like Brennan Cox, and have Scott Thompson as the floating loose or playing on the medium types like David Mundy when he spends time close to goal.
Or the selected side may also be a smokescreen for a late change if the rain does come as advertised. If Geelong can make one every week (10 already this year!), then North can have one every so often.
How does North win the midfield battle?
In Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe and Lachie Neale, North has a fearsome trio to contend with around the ball.
But if it can neutralise their impact on the game, North will be halfway home with the points, which makes for intriguing tactical decisions.
Fyfe – whose disposal average against North is higher than any other opposition bar Gold Coast – looms as the first option for Ben Jacobs’ tag.
However, does the news about Fyfe playing through injury tempt North into some different matchups around stoppages; potentially sending Jacobs to Neale and playing more head to head with Fyfe via Ben Cunnington or Shaun Higgins?
(I wouldn’t, just for the record, but it may be a wrench to throw into Fremantle plans for a few minutes at a time.)
Is Fremantle actually a good side at home?
Is the difference between those home and away splits entirely due to opposition?
Fremantle’s opponents at Optus Stadium: Essendon, Gold Coast, Western Bulldogs, West Coast and St Kilda. With the exception of the derby, not exactly a murderer’s row.
Fremantle’s opponents interstate: Port Adelaide, GWS (good Giants, not current iteration), Richmond and Sydney.
North’s performance today will go a long way towards answering the question.
Which leads us to the final question…
If it rains heavily all day, does any of this matter?
Most of it doesn’t. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you on Monday morning with the match review.