EVEN before Yarrawonga stepped out on to Birallee Park, things looked noticeably different.
The Pigeons, left with their tails between their legs after a final round hiding at Albury, seemed ready for business.
There was minimal talk in the warm-up, rather, a steely look of resolve.
This one was personal.
It showed, as the Pigeons ran out comfortable 64-point winners over Lavington in Saturday’s qualifying final.
Brendan Fevola starred for the victors, kicking seven goals in his near 30-possession haul that had the crowd on the edge of their seats the entire game.
He had 15 shots at goal and should have finished with a bag of 10.
Fevola’s tormenting role opposed to Panthers’ coach James Saker was as symbolic as it was important to the outcome.
Saker could do little to stop the onslaught.
And neither could his team.
Lavington kicked the first goals of the first, second and final quarters, yet found just one more for the game.
Yarrawonga rammed home 15 of them.
After a first-quarter tirade from Fevola and Kayne Pettifer, who combined for five first-term goals, the Pigeons had ensured the result was going to lay in their hands.
When they kicked four of the game’s next five, they ensured that result was going to be a victory.
“I think across the board they were comprehensively better than us,” Saker said after the defeat.
“In every aspect.
“Their skills were really good, their pressure was really good and they were first into the footy.”
The Pigeons were ruthless, clean and effective.
They laid more tackles in the first half on Saturday than they did the entire game a week earlier.
“When we pressure and tackle well, we play well,” Yarrawonga co-coach Chris Kennedy said.
“The boys know that.”
It was a point he had drummed home from the moment the Pigeons limped off Albury Sportsground in round 18.
He was right.
Nick Lawless, Corey Greer, Jarrod Thompson, Brad O’Connor and Jeremy O’Brien all struggled against the Tigers.
On Saturday, they were the chief destroyers.
“I thought our ball use was a lot better,” Kennedy said.
“We didn’t do that against Albury in the last round and they got that week off but it means nothing now.
“I said to the coaching staff when we lost last week that we’re not right.
“We needed to play some footy.
“Our form hadn’t been great and today I think we got back into form.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, played themselves out of it.
The press, for whatever reason, looked non-existent.
Saker assured it wasn’t intentional.
“Look, from my point of view, if people think the press is the issue
then they probably watched the wrong game,” he said.
“You can set up however you want, but I think what you’ll find is that if a Yarrawonga, or Albury, get the footy out of a stoppage the way they did then it’s not going to be effective.
“Our structure was poor but our ability to win or halve contests wasn’t there.
“That’s the issue, for us.”
Lavington’s fullback conceded his team might have been overawed by the big stage.
“It looked that way,” Saker said.
“But that’s what happens in finals footy.
“It’s a step up. We had a few guys that didn’t take it.
“From myself down, we weren’t good enough as individuals and collectively not good enough.
“We got a lesson today in finals footy.”