The first time is never the best, something Brad Scott feels his AFL side is well placed to show against Essendon.
North Melbourne face the Bombers on Saturday in a sudden-death clash at the MCG, having finished the regular season with four solid wins.
Long-term injury concerns over the likes of Daniel Wells and Jamie Macmillan have been conquered, while their depth and capacity to rest key players in round 23 will provide Scott with some selection headaches.
Scott agreed the club was in a much better position compared to 2012, the only other year that North reached the finals in his five-year tenure.
Most of his charges’ finals experience starts and ends with that 96-point loss to West Coast.
“We’ll play a side full of really fit and fresh players who are more resilient, more hardened (than in 2012) and ready for what’s coming,” Scott said.
“We’re primed and ready to go.”
Lachie Hansen will have his persistent hip injury assessed this week, with Scott saying the key defender is in doubt for the elimination final.
Leigh Adams will also be under medical staff’s watch after being knocked out against Melbourne on Saturday night,
Michael Firrito, Lindsay Thomas, Levi Greenwood, Todd Goldstein and Luke McDonald were all rested from the 30-point win over the Demons.
All five players would seemingly command a spot in the side.
“We’re in better shape than we’ve been all year and we’ve been working towards that over the last month,” he said.
“The guys that we left out will be cherry ripe and the guys who came in, some of them are going to give us real selection headaches.”
Debutant forward Mason Wood impressed against Melbourne, as did recalled defender Macmillan.
“It sounds brutal, but I suspect that will be relatively easy,” Scott said of the selection committee’s task to pick their best 22.
“It should stand out pretty clearly, once we go through it.
“That’s not to say there aren’t gong to be some unlucky players.”