Jordan Lewis played in six AFL preliminary finals at Hawthorn and four of them were decided by less than a goal.
The Melbourne veteran knows better than anyone that the prelim is often the toughest test, even above the grand final.
He will face the challenge again Saturday for the first time since 2015 when the Demons play West Coast at Optus Stadium.
"Players need to approach it like it's their last game of the season," Lewis said.
"Historically, the grand finals, we performed quite well in the game.
"But prelims ... they go right down to the wire, no matter how favoured one side is.
"They are the hardest matches to win."
Lewis played in five grand finals at Hawthorn and of the four premierships, the closest margin was 15 points.
But only the first preliminary final, the 54-point win over St Kilda in 2008, was a blow out.
Lewis' most recent prelim was three years ago, also in Perth.
After losing the away qualifying final to West Coast, the Hawks returned a fortnight later and beat Fremantle by 27 points before belting the Eagles in the grand final.
Just as Saturday will mark a return to the pointy end of the season for Lewis, it is also West Coast's first preliminary final in three years.
"That was huge ... our approach is pretty similar this time around - if we lose, we're out and we don't want to be in a position to get on that plane and not have a game to go to next weekend," Lewis said.
A year after the 2015 premiership, Lewis joined Melbourne and his leadership has been crucial in their first finals campaign for 12 years.
"When I was going through the transition (from Hawthorn to Melbourne), I envisaged trying to be in a side that was going to be successful," he said.
"But being here now and getting ourselves in a prelim final, I get the sense that the playing group don't feel they've achieved anything yet, which is quite a good thing."
JORDAN LEWIS' PRELIMINARY FINALS AT HAWTHORN
2008 beat St Kilda by 54 points
2011 lost to Collingwood by three points
2012 beat Adelaide by five points
2013 beat Geelong by five points
2014 beat Port Adelaide by three points
2015 beat Fremantle by 27 points
Australian Associated Press