The final eight has shifted all year with no team sitting clearly above the rest but finally the ladder is set.
Five birds are perched in the top five positions.
And just beyond the Cats in 6th are the Dockers and the Kangaroos, the constant underdogs who at the very least could do some damage in their finals campaigns.
It’s a year where nearly any finalist can win.
But beyond the premiership fight, there stands the bottom 10 teams who all put on a show for 23 rounds.
St Kilda, Carlton and Essendon have all ebbed and flowed in and out of the eight in 2012 and could have found a spot in September. Then comes the perennial underachievers Richmond, who have yet again failed in their finals campaign but have both the Coleman medallist and Brownlow contenders in a team that is sure to fire in the future.
The biggest worry for the AFL are the bottom five teams.
While the Western Bulldogs are rebuilding and the two development teams – Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney – are… well, developing, Port Adelaide and Melbourne seem to be in a rut that they just can’t break.
On top of their finals drought, Port Adelaide has well documented financial woes to deal with.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Port Adelaide will get yet another new coach in 2013 and Melbourne will go benefit from a second year under coach Mark Neeld and youthful co-captains Jack Trengove and Jack Grimes.
Every season will have its big losers and its blemishes but as a whole the AFL has succeeded competitively in 2012.
Not only have all 18 teams fought hard, often in the face of adversity, but the final eight are primed to put on the most tenacious fight for the flag in a long time.
Andrew Demetriou and the AFL upper echelon can put a tick against this AFL season and enjoy the spectacle that the finals are sure to be.
The trick for the AFL will be to recreate this competitiveness in years to come, proving that all the meddling they insist on will create an even competition.
What do you think? Leave your comments below and join the conversation.
- Dockers down Roos to seal AFL top eight (news.smh.com.au)
- The inequality of the AFL draw (notworththecandle.wordpress.com)