THIS was the Sydney Swans as they have been known and loved. Unless, like hapless, Geelong you are on the pointy end of their finals fury.
This was the Swans not merely making another grand final but crashing their way into one. Confronting a mere six day break, some significant injury worries and a supposedly talent-laden opposition and producing a stunning 37 point victory.
It was a performance that will remind the Giants – if that is who the Swans play next Saturday – that the Battle of Sydney was not settled at ANZ Stadium two weeks ago. The lines were merely drawn.
From literally the opening seconds all the Swans trademarks were on show. Suffocating pressure, fearsome tackling, pinpoint disposal and this year’s added ingredient - a more flowing style that makes for an open forward line and easier scoring.
If the Swans merely coasted to the line, however, the way they established their dominance was relentless, brutal, and – most satisfyingly for those ridiculed when they inked his $10 million contract – Buddy beautiful.
Lance Franklin went into this game locked in imaginary battle with Geelong’s brilliant midfielder Dangerfield to determine whose star shone brighter. By quarter-time it was a Franklin eclipse.
So omnipresent was Franklin in the early exchanges that even when he limped toward the boundary nursing a sore hip the ball somehow landed in his hands. To rework an old saying, Franklin’s possession of the ball was temporary but his class is permanent.
Even in the latter stages when Geelong scored consecutive goals, it was Franklin who charged through the defence to bring down Cats’ forward Steven Motlop in a perfect tackle – and with him some of their precious momentum.
But even as the Cats began to dominate the inside-50 count, a miserly Swans’ defence led brilliantly from the outset by the unsung heroes Nick Smith, Heath Grundy and Dane Rampe kept their forwards under control.
So the Swans enter the grand final after a stunning performance, with eight days to rest and some significant motivation. If it is not the memory of the recent defeat to the Giants, then their humiliation in the 2014 grand final by Hawthorn will be a spur in their saddles.
Sydney will not underestimate the challenge. After Friday night, neither the Giants nor the Bulldogs would dare underestimate the Swans.