All roads lead to Round 1. And the closer it creeps and as the anticipation builds, one game has emerged as the most tantalising on a blockbuster opening weekend of 2017.
The traditional season opener between Carlton and Richmond stands out. As does Collingwood against the reigning premiers on Friday night. Essendon’s returning stars face Hawthorn and Adelaide host the Giants. But one game stands above all others.
In the twilight slot on Saturday afternoon, St Kilda hosts Melbourne at Etihad Stadium at a venue where the Saints have built a fortress under the roof in Docklands, especially against the Demons.
Both sides have travelled along a similar north-east trajectory in the last three seasons, moving from the very bottom to be on the cusp of September last year.
Now, both sides are poised for a top-eight finish in 2017, but is there room for both sides? How important will it be to get off to a fast start?
While the Saints have rebuilt their list methodically in recent seasons, the Demons have stacked their side full of top-end talent.
Melbourne's Jesse Hogan in action in the JLT Community Series (AFL Photos).
Melbourne has added Jesse Hogan, Christian Salem, Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver and Sam Weideman to their list.
On top of that youth, they acquired four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis, dashing defender Michael Hibberd and have Jake Melksham at their disposal after he served his 12-month suspension.
All signs point to a bright future at AAMI Park, but the same can be said at Linen House Centre.
Jack Steele has been impressive in his first two JLT appearances for the Saints (AFL Photos).
Emerging youngsters Jack Billings, Jade Gresham, Luke Dunstan, Jack Steele and Blake Acres are set to play integral roles in the engine room this season.
While Paddy McCartin has laid the foundations for a breakout year, and anything is possible with Ben Long.
After a long trek in the wilderness, both St Kilda and Melbourne are poised to make an impact in 2017. It all starts on the last Saturday in March.