Scott sees positives with Cats in familiar territory
The feeling is so similar that Geelong coach Chris Scott has relented and broken his golden rule about not comparing seasons.
At 5-4, the Cats are in familiar territory, having launched last year's flag raid from the same platform after nine rounds.
And with eight premiership players set to come back from injury and suspension - most of those before the mid-season bye - there is cause for optimism.
"It just feels so similar," a philosophical Scott said after Friday night's 24-point defeat to Richmond.
"That doesn't mean that it's going to play out the same way.
"But we had every intention last year, as we did this year, of managing our players through the season and we've had virtually no opportunity to do that.
"It's been kind of managed through injury, so the secret there is to sort of hang in, take the positives and keep working on your game.
"When they (the injured players) come back, hopefully you can sort of hit your straps a little bit."
Brad Close will return from suspension against Fremantle next week, while Scott said small forward Tyson Stengle (arm) and defender Jack Henry (foot) could also be in the selection frame.
Captain Patrick Dangerfield (hamstring), Sam De Koning (face), Gary Rohan (hamstring), Rhys Stanley (eye socket) and Cam Guthrie (toe) should not be far behind.
"We're going to have to improve a lot to go on a run like we did last year," Scott said.
"But there's a lot of room for optimism in the improvement we've got in us and the personnel to come back."
The loss to Richmond ended the Cats' five-match winning streak but Scott was buoyed by much of what he saw, in particular from his younger players.
He praised debutant Jhye Clark and took heart from the performances of 20-year-old trio Tanner Bruhn, Oliver Dempsey and Mitch Knevitt.
"They all did some good things and there was reason to be positive ... but there was some stuff that didn't quite look like Geelong at their best," Scott said.
"It wasn't so much the stuff around the ball, it was just some sort of system things where you're kind of like, 'That's not us.'
"But then you see the players involved and you think, 'He's played three games, just sort of chill out a bit'.
"I think that's the reason I'm not as surly as I normally am when we lose."