Fremantle have sat in an emotional "no-man's land" waiting for their preliminary final opponents to be decided in tonight's clash between Sydney and Carlton at ANZ Stadium, according to Dockers coach Ross Lyon.
In a revealing insight into the preparation for the club's best chance to make the AFL grand final in its 19-season history with a first home preliminary final, Lyon explained the challenges of keeping his team ready for its moment of truth at Patersons Stadium next Saturday.
"You're feeling anxiety because you're normally flat-stick," Lyon told ABC Radio yesterday.
"We're still working hard, but the mental stress of an opponent isn't quite there at the minute.
"You feel like you're in no-man's land and certainly we'll freshen, but then (it's) the challenge of staying really focused and preparing really well for the upcoming game.
"The challenge of this week is to keep up your intensity and game sharpness for when that ball's bounced next week."
Lyon said the Dockers reviewed last Saturday's ground-breaking win over Geelong, only signing off on the game with a final meeting yesterday morning.
Lyon guided St Kilda to consecutive grand final campaigns in 2009 and 2010 and was blunt when asked what he had learnt from the experiences, having ended up on the losing side both times.
"How to handle disappointment and move on," he said, also openly admitting he craved a premiership both for the Dockers and himself.
"It's a great experience, but in saying that I think what we welcome this week is a preliminary final and there's a lot more distractions.
"By distractions, we mean there's a lot more media interest, there are a lot more stories being written and there's a lot more anxiety about outcome as the outcome gets bigger."
Lyon acknowledged the growing weight of support behind Fremantle, particularly since cross-town rivals West Coast had bowed out of the premiership race at the end of the home-and-away season.
He also stressed to his players that motivations such as the one revealed on Thursday by star midfielder Nat Fyfe, that the Dockers wanted to win to reward the club's most loyal veteran players and supporters, should be treated as super- ficial.
"Everyone has their own motivators and if that's what it is for Nathan, that's fine and I think everyone would like to see those guys be successful," Lyon said.
"Feelings don't get it done.
"They're all nice and they're all fuzzy, but we don't really care how people feel, it's how they act."