Have your say on the AFL Grand Final
Tens of thousands of AFL fans have begun descending on the MCG as Melbourne prepares to halt for the 2012 Grand Final.
Hawthorn remains favourite with bookmakers to defeat Sydney and claim their 11th premiership.
On the morning of the last Saturday in September, the Hawks were quoted as $1.55 favourites with the Swans at a seemingly enticing $2.55.
Footy fans woke to clear and crisp conditions in Melbourne, but the weather is expected to turn ugly for the first bounce at 2.30pm, with heavy rain, strong winds of up to 40km/h and even hail expected during the match.
The annual event has triggered festivities across Australia, with fans outside the MCG celebrating the day in traditional fashion.
Barbecues and beer is being enjoyed by many for breakfast, while former AFL greats litter more formal functions to help preview the big day.
"It's such an even game," Hawthorn legend Robert DiPierdomenico told the TODAY show.
"With the likes of Buddy Franklin, Cyril Rioli, Adam Goodes and Jude Bolton out there it's going to be a classic game.
"I think the Hawks will win by three or four goals."
Swans legend Paul Kelly said Sydney will not be thinking about their poor record at the MCG.
"Today's another day for the Swans and they'll be focussed on beating the Hawks," Kelly said on TODAY.
"The Swans will tighten things up and slow the game down.
"But if the Hawks get on a roll the Swans might get into some trouble."
With the Hawks finishing as minor premiers for the first time since 1989, coach Alastair Clarkson is finding it hard to deal with the huge expectations of his side ahead of the grand final.
Since their 2008 grand final upset of Geelong netted a young Hawthorn side the first of a club target of two flags in five years, the Hawks have failed to match the huge expectations.
They've spent most of this season as premiership favourites, despite the Swans holding top spot for much of it, and will enter the MCG decider clearly holding that status.
But Clarkson denies the grand final will be the reverse for the Hawks of their 2008 experience, when he needed to convince his side pre-game that downing the Cats was possible.
"The difference was in 2008 Geelong were on top of the ladder for the whole season," he told reporters.
"Sydney were on top of the ladder for a fair amount of this year.
"We know Sydney are a great football side and we've been able to play some good footy ourselves throughout the course of this year.
"And we know that probably in the big scheme of things, the two best sides consistently over the course of 22 rounds are playing off in the grand final.
"It's going to be a really fierce battle and I reckon it's 50-50 who are going to win.
"We're obviously hoping to goodness that it's us."
The Swans, in the top four for the first time in six years, have largely flown under the radar.
Many experts see their success partly due to a favourable draw.
Convincing finals wins over Adelaide and Collingwood have franked their credentials.
But Clarkson says he has known since Sydney's upset of Hawthorn in Launceston in round five that the Swans are legitimate flag threats.
"I don't think anyone had them in their top two or three at the start of the season," he said.
"The form that they showed on that particular day, I was thinking to myself if they continue to play in that type of manner they're going to feature heavily at the end of the year.
"That's been proven right."
While expectations are different, the two clubs have built towards this opportunity in similar ways.
The Swans have added Josh Kennedy, Shane Mumford, Rhyce Shaw, Martin Mattner and Mitch Morton from other clubs since their 2006 grand final loss.
The Hawks have followed suit since their 2008 win, adding key cogs David Hale, Josh Gibson, Shaun Burgoyne and Jack Gunston.
They've split their two meetings this year with the Hawks winning a seven-point thriller at the SCG in round 22, although Swans coach John Longmire said that defeat hadn't damaged his side's belief.
"It was a really fierce contest with nothing in it at the end," he said.
Both teams are expected to line up as selected, the coaches saying forecast low temperatures, high winds, rain and possible hail would not affect their plans.
Which team will win the 2012 AFL Grand Final?
Will inclement weather favour either team?
Which player will win the Norm Smith Medal?