Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin sees Thursday night's first-versus-second clash with Geelong as an "audit" for his AFL ladder leaders, two months out from the finals.
The Demons sit top of the pile in their premiership defence after arresting a mid-season form slump with successive wins over Brisbane and Adelaide.
As was the case with the Lions in round 15, Goodwin's men face a huge test against the in-form Cats at GMHBA Stadium.
Geelong have won six straight games and tuned up last week with a 112-point annihilation of North Melbourne.
"These are the opportunities that you look forward to, to play against some really high-quality footy teams," Goodwin said.
"No doubt Brisbane were one of those a few weeks ago and once again we get a great challenge down in Geelong.
"We look forward to these challenges because you get a great audit on your game and you get a great audit on where you sit as a footy club.
"We'll get a good look at where we sit, how we're tracking and where we need to improve."
Tormented by Geelong for most of the last two decades, Melbourne were victorious in all three encounters with the Cats last season.
The winning run included an after-the-siren triumph at GMHBA Stadium in round 23 - sealed by Max Gawn's ice-cool set shot - and an 83-point demolition in the preliminary final in Perth.
Those memorable results were crucial in the Dees' run to a drought-breaking premiership.
"The belief grew in our ability to be able to execute over a long period of time," Goodwin said.
"We had enormous momentum heading into that finals series and the preliminary final.
"What it showed to us is we need to be at our best, we need to execute well within our method and that's what Geelong demand from you.
"They demand for you to be at your best and we're going to need to be that tomorrow night."
Geelong coach Chris Scott agreed with Goodwin's assessment of the blockbuster clash as a litmus test but added there is plenty of time for the loser to bounce back before September.
"Your game gets tested more by the best teams," Scott said.
"I don't think anyone tries to sit down in (pre-season) and work through how they want to play without a bit of thought to (whether this will) stand up against the best teams in the biggest moments.
"That's certainly the process we've worked through.
"It's the first time we've played them for the year, and we're looking forward to the opportunity."
Australian Associated Press
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