David Mundy struggles to remember the 2006 preliminary final.
The then 21-year-old was a smooth mover on Fremantle's half-back line when he found himself just one win away from a grand final, less than 18 months after his debut.
The Dockers took on reigning premiers Sydney at ANZ Stadium on the night of September 22, falling 35 points short of taking on arch rivals West Coast in the decider a week later.
Mundy, who had finished third in the 2005 Rising Star award, behind Richmond's Brett Deledio and Western Bulldog Ryan Griffen, didn't expect it would be seven more seasons before he found himself with another opportunity to reach a grand final.
"I think I was 20 or 21 and I can't really remember it, to be honest," Mundy said ahead of the preliminary final rematch against the Swans at Patersons Stadium tonight.
"I was a young, naive kid trying to get a game. Taking so long to get back to the finals in the first place, I think it was four or five years after that, it is not something you really think about.
"Nothing is guaranteed in this game, so you have just got to keep working for it."
Mundy doesn't need to look far to find evidence of how tough the elite level can be. Of the five players Fremantle took in the 2003 national draft, he is the only one remaining at the club, or even playing in the AFL.
Ryley Dunn (pick No.10) played just eight games in five seasons before being de-listed, Ryan Murphy (No.12) was cut before reaching 50 games and Adam Campbell (No.27) managed only 13 appearances.
Father-son selection Brett Peake (No.43) had some fine moments during 75 games before being traded to St Kilda at the end of 2009. Defender Paul Duffield arrived at the Dockers through the rookie draft and Michael Johnson was snared through the pre-season draft in the same year as Mundy. Both are expected to line up against the Swans.
"I think the average lifespan of an AFL player is about 3.5 years and I have been lucky enough to be around for about 10," Mundy said.
"It's a bit of luck, hard work and taking nothing for granted.
"You have got to earn your place. It is a big business so if you don't pull your weight you will be gone pretty quick.
"I played under-age football with Ryley Dunn at Murray Bushrangers and at Victoria Country with Ryan Murphy and Adam Campbell as well.
"My wife is best friends with Ryan Murphy's wife still, so I see him regularly."
A lot has changed for Mundy since he stepped on to the big stage of a preliminary final seven years ago.
He has developed into one of the competition's best mid- fielders and is playing a key role in his fourth finals series.
Mundy and his wife, Sally, have a four-month-old son, Finn, and the 28-year-old has no doubt that Finn's arrival has been beneficial to his football.
"Anything I might be worrying about or thinking about football-wise goes away and gets put on the backburner trying to help my wife with our son," Mundy said.
If Fremantle break through for the club's first premiership, tributes to the loyalty shown by veteran South Australian Matthew Pavlich will flow.
Mundy faced a similar dilemma to Pavlich at the end of 2010 when most of the Victorian clubs tried to lure him home on the back of a breakout season.
Mundy signed a four-year deal shortly before winning his first Doig Medal as the Dockers' best-and-fairest player and has not looked back. "It was a big commitment to remain away from your family and your home for your career," he said."The ties to family and the urge to go back home to family was really strong. My sister had just had my nephew and since had another little girl. But at the end of the day I thought my football would be best served by staying at Fremantle. And I am pretty happy with that decision."