At Fremantle, the burning questions ahead of next weekend's western derby are whether skipper Matthew Pavlich has played enough to be at his best and whether defender Garrick Ibbotson will play at all.
At West Coast, does the space in the best 22 left by the unavailability of injured midfielders Matt Rosa and Daniel Kerr make enough room for veteran Andrew Embley, also light on for match practice after a hamstring concern stopped his pre-season in the second round of the NAB Cup against Collingwood?
And how well prepared is Beau Waters, like Pavlich coming off a slow summer build-up and just one pre-season match, against Port Adelaide in Alice Springs last weekend?
The 37th western derby might be one of the biggest in history, with the eyes of the nation on it as one of two matches used to launch the home-and-away season next weekend, but it is a match-up between teams with some early-season issues.
The Eagles will be without Rosa and Kerr, recruit Sharrod Wellingham and All-Australian ruckman Nic Naitanui. Their depth, vastly improved on paper after the off-season recruiting of Wellingham, Jamie Cripps and Cale Morton, is set for a first-up test.
In Naitanui's absence, the Eagles must choose ruck support for Dean Cox, knowing that Scott Lycett has been given good game time in the role throughout the pre-season, but Callum Sinclair has been in outstanding form in practice matches for Subiaco.
And while they will feel well prepared for Fremantle's tall forwards, with Darren Glass looming in support if Eric Mackenzie loses control of Pavlich, they will be tested in matching up with the smaller ones. Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters pose serious threats at ground level and Chris Mayne, who signed a three-year contract extension this week, is a mid-sized threat.
Will Schofield can play on all sizes, but other options are not as clear cut as the Eagles like to use Shannon Hurn and Waters offensively. Sam Butler was pulled out of Perth's WAFL team yesterday. But Jacob Brennan will play for East Fremantle.
Fremantle's lead ruckman Aaron Sandilands will miss at least round one with hamstring tendon issues from pre-season but Naitanui's absence goes some way to cancelling this out.
Other than that, the Dockers will be close to full strength on paper, but linchpin Pavlich is at least one game short of an ideal preparation, having had his first run, make that a canter, against the Western Bulldogs at Mandurah last weekend.
He kicked three goals from six shots. He was convincing on the lead, rusty in pack-marking situations. And the Bulldogs, tipped to struggle even with their best on the park this season, certainly did not have their best out there at Bendigo Bank Stadium.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon put the game in context by declaring he could have kicked a goal at one point, against a young team that had just four players with 35 games AFL experience.
Meanwhile, it has become a strong possibility that Ibbotson, who has played 101 games in the last five seasons and become something of a permanent member of Fremantle's best 22, will be in the WAFL next weekend.
Scratchy against Carlton when the Blues inflicted a 70-point defeat on Fremantle in NAB Cup round two, Ibbotson was at East Fremantle last weekend and will be there again today - his last chance to press claims.
He was solid for the Sharks last weekend, gathering 20 possessions, but he may need more than solid to reclaim his spot.
His cause is not helped by Fremantle's own defensive match-up challenge - covering Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling, a resting ruckman and a small forward of Mark LeCras' quality.
Zac Dawson, who also signed a contract extension this week, gets one tall and Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson the others.
Lyon showed he might be looking for new smaller options last weekend.
Clancee Pearce, Stephen Hill and even Kepler Bradley spent time in defence - the moves back for Pearce and Hill made possible by the flexibility added to Fremantle's midfield by Danyle Pearce and a fitter Nick Suban.
Bradley looks a likely casualty from the 24 who played against the Bulldogs with Zac Clarke producing a dominant game in the ruck. The battle for the remaining spots would then boil down to one between Ibbotson, youngsters Hayden Crozier and Lachie Neale who both played against the Dogs, and Jess Crichton who was omitted but responded with a 31-possession effort at Peel.…but linchpin Pavlich is at least one game short of an ideal preparation."
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