THE MESSAGE could not have been any clearer from Swans coach John Longmire. Regardless of which way the conversation turned, it came back to the same junction. Success on Friday and a grand final berth hinges on his team simply being harder, for longer.
Longmire was in Melbourne on Saturday night to watch Collingwood come from behind to defeat West Coast, and book a berth at ANZ Stadium in Friday night's preliminary final against his team. He was suitably impressed by the toughness of the Pies, but it's his own team that remains his focus.
"It was a typical finals' game of footy," Longmire said, adding he wasn't surprised the Magpies rebounded from their loss to Hawthorn in week one of the finals.
"They have got enough talent in their team all over the ground and enough experience and competitiveness to be a very good team. They have proven it again and it shouldn't be much of a surprise really."
Asked how they will win, he headed straight to playing harder for longer.
"I think there's probably a number of areas we need to get right. They probably got us in the midfield area last time, in the ruck and midfield area is where they probably beat us, but I think overall, this game has to be a game where we have to be harder for longer."
It will be one of the most talked about statistics all week - how the Swans have been the bunnies for the Magpies over the past seven seasons. Sydney has not beaten Collingwood at any venue since 2005, losing 11 in a row, the greatest active club versus club streak in the AFL. They have lost the past seven clashes at ANZ against the black and whites.
Longmire says there are a combination of reasons why the Magpies have dominated Sydney for such a long period, particularly the fact they have matched up well against the Swans in that period, been one of the game's elite teams in that time, and of course boasted some of the competition's most talented players.
"There's not one specific thing. I think the bottom line is they have been able to sustain it (the pressure and intensity) for a little bit longer than we have, and last the couple of times it hasn't been much longer (than the Swans) but it's been enough, and that's what we have to try and keep improving on.
"We did well against Adelaide but we will have improve even more this week. There is no doubt about that. Watching the game last night Collingwood played a pretty fierce brand of footy and that's what is required at this time of the year. They are very good at that and I'm sure they will bring that again this Friday.
"As for the streak, I understand people outside the footy club talking about it but internally we don't focus on that because it is as much about the here and the now and that's what we've concerned ourselves about. We have learned that we have to be harder for longer and that's what you need to do against all the good teams."
Longmire says he will wait until later in the week to decide exactly where he will play Lewis Roberts-Thomson. The defender-turned-ruckman turned forward, filled in well for the suspended Heath Grundy in defence last week against Adelaide, but with Grundy back this week, and Mitch Morton doing a good role in the forward line against the Crows, Longmire now has a decision to make with Roberts-Thomson.
The game will not only determine which clubs advance to the grand final, but will also be a special one for the Swans with Jude Bolton becoming just the third player in the club's history to reach 300 games, joining Michael O'Loughlin and Adam Goodes. Longmire said that won't be any distraction for his team.
"No not at all. It's a well-deserved milestone for a champion of the footy club and we're thrilled he's able to reach the milestone. But talking to Jude last week, he's all very much business as usual. He understands it's a major milestone but he very much wants to get on with the job at hand as you would expect with Jude Bolton."