Moving Nat Fyfe forward used to mean Fremantle was robbing Peter to pay Paul.
New kids on the block - namely Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and AFL rising star contender Caleb Serong - are entrenching themselves in the Dockers' midfield.
Throw in the underrated and now injured Darcy Tucker and Connor Blakely, who was asked to work on deficiencies before regaining his spot on Sunday, and the club suddenly finds itself with depth.
For too long too much fell to Fyfe, Michael Walters and David Mundy in the midfield.
All three are dangerous in attack - an area Fremantle has struggled - so the option of switching that trio between midfield and forward adds another dimension.
Fyfe is an aerialist, Mundy ice-cold and Walters a threat in the air and on the ground.
Fyfe, a two-time Brownlow medallist, wants to spend more time in the forward 50.
He did in his return from a hamstring against Collingwood, often with Magpies' All-Australian contender Darcy Moore for company.
At 192 centimetres tall and with the strength to rag doll opponents, the Fremantle captain is a scary proposition in attack.
"He wants to play forward. We want him to play forward," coach Justin Longmuir said post-game.
"We'll continue to work on the balance of his forward and midfield time.
"The thing about Nathan when he goes forward is that he draws a good defender. He makes that defender play on him which helps all the other forwards around him and he gives a really strong contest like he does in the midfield."
Clearly having Fyfe, 2019 All-Australian Walters and 300-gamer Mundy at the centre bounces and around the stoppages gives the Dockers every chance to win the clearance.
But now the likes of Brayshaw and Serong are there to complement them and, one day, take the mantle.
Brayshaw, a former number two draft pick, showed glimpses in his first two seasons.
A chase-down tackle here or a creative handball there highlighted his capabilities.
But he stagnated slightly and had external heat applied after Fremantle's round four loss to Gold Coast earlier this year.
Since that point Brayshaw, who oozes captaincy material, has increased his output significantly, gathering 23, 20, 17, 28 and 17 disposals in his past five matches.
He was integral in the Dockers' first win of the season against Adelaide in round five and stepped up again in their come-from-behind victory against St Kilda the following week.
He's clean in the clinches, courageous in the air and competes until the final siren.
Serong is cut from the same cloth.
The number eight pick from the 2019 draft debuted in round four and took time to find his feet, gathering just over double-figure possessions in his first four matches.
But Longmuir threw him in at the centre clearances from game one, giving the Vic Country export belief he belonged.
Now, after back-to-back 20-plus possession games, including a rising star nomination, he's put his hand up as a starting 18 regular.
He went head-to-head with Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield, showing a knack for extracting the ball in tight situations.
Then, in Fremantle's shock 12-point win against Collingwood, Serong gathered a career-best 24 disposals.
But it's the quality not quantity which is most impressive.
Cerra complements those two bulls with his polish.
The former number five draft pick doesn't get as much of the ball but makes smart decisions and appears to have extra time.
He's not afraid to do the hard work either, laying nine tackles against the Cats.
All three could hit the scoreboard more. Only Serong (two) has kicked goals this season.
The trio are young - Brayshaw and Cerra are 20, Serong 19.
Tucker is 23 and Blakely 24.
Fyfe is only 28 and Walters, at 29, is in sizzling form.
Mundy, who earned eight AFL Coaches Association votes for his 24-disposal, one-goal effort against the Magpies, is the veteran at 35 but is showing he could play on for another season to help nurture the next tier.
Longmuir should be pleased with the Dockers' progression under his tutelage.
They lost their first four games - three by under three goals - before back-to-back wins against Adelaide and St Kilda.
They took lessons from their losses to premiership fancies West Coast and Geelong and bounced back against another finals contender in Collingwood.
They've done this with limited training sessions as a group, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and with one of the league's longest injury lists.
Key defenders Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling have not been sighted in 2020 and the emerging Griffin Logue, who had taken on extra responsibility, hurt his toe and is now enduring a lengthy stint on the sidelines.
Their absence has meant Luke Ryan, at 187cm, has become the Dockers' key defender.
The rebounding backman has relished the responsibility and is in All-Australian discussions after nine games.
Fremantle has also had five debutants - Hayden Young, Sam Sturt, Michael Frederick, Tobe Watson and Serong - and has exciting top-10 pick Liam Henry waiting in the wings.
It's likely Fremantle is facing a fifth straight year without a top-eight appearance but, based on what it's shown so far, it should be back in finals sooner rather than later.
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