Ross Lyon has declared that West Coast's scalp would be a measure of Fremantle's worth as he put pride on the line in Saturday's eagerly-anticipated western derby at Patersons Stadium.
Lyon was balancing bittersweet emotions when the Dockers faded to a 27-point win over Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium after putting on one of the best defensive master classes of the season in a one-sided first half yesterday.
But with young star Nat Fyfe returning from a shoulder injury in compelling fashion, he was emphatic Fremantle had better balance and structure than when the Eagles put them to the sword by 48 points in round nine.
The match, which will be played before a pro-Dockers crowd, would go a long way to determining their 2012 fortunes, which have been boosted considerably courtesy of a four-game winning streak.
"We've beaten the teams around us or below us, we need to beat somebody above us to sort of legitimise what we're trying to do for the year," Lyon said.
"West Coast Eagles are the first opportunity for that, so I'm really excited about it.
"As a football club, we're really proud … our cross-town rival, we want to really compete fiercely and hold our head high.
"I understand the responsibility as a coach and a playing group that we hold for our football club in a derby town.
"It's one of the great rivalries and we want to build on that and at some point, we want to be able to play our best in the derby."
Quality midfielder Michael Barlow said that after 17 games with Lyon at the helm, Fremantle were now better equipped to deal with the defensive pressure West Coast used to strangle them earlier in the year, especially after half-time.
Barlow said the Dockers had grown to a point where they would be more composed in the heat of the derby and were anxious to do well in front of their home crowd.
"People probably have perceptions of us that we'll fall away now," Barlow said with the Dockers searching for a fifth consecutive win.
"That's something we're really looking forward to, proving the critics wrong.
"For ourselves, personally, to maintain a bit of momentum and continue a streak that we've got going now is really important for us and our fans.
"We really value what our fans do for us and what they bring to the table and what they've been through.
"We want to push forward a sustained period of success for them as well as us and I think it's going in the right direction.
"It's always a big week in WA. We're really excited for the fans and WA in general because both teams are seemingly in really good nick going forward."
Fremantle appeared to have no injuries, although Jonathon Griffin's knee will be tested.