Geelong coach Chris Scott is in awe of how Sydney have remained competitive throughout an injury crisis featuring their most influential AFL players.
The 15th-placed Swans will be playing for pride at Metricon Stadium on Sunday but they also have a chance to put a major dent in the Cats' premiership hopes.
Geelong will finish in the top four if they defeat Sydney, otherwise Scott's team will be pitched into an elimination final.
The rebuilding Swans' 5-11 record for the year suggests it should be a reasonably easy task for Geelong.
And the Cats' chances have improved with the inclusion of star quartet Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett, Gary Rohan and Jack Steven.
However, those numbers belie the way Sydney have challenged Richmond, Port Adelaide and Brisbane in patches of their clashes with those premiership contenders.
They also fail to disclose that Lance Franklin has failed to play a game in 2020, while young gun Isaac Heeney and first-choice ruckman Sam Naismith have also missed most of the season.
Co-captains Dane Rampe and Josh Kennedy have both been restricted to 11 games, while many of their teammates have had stints on the sidelines.
Luke Parker is one of just five Swans to have played every match this season, while Joel Amartey last week became the club's seventh debutant this year.
"They've played well against some good teams," Scott said.
"They seem to have evolved quite quickly over the course of the year, which is a credit to them.
"Because not many teams at either end of the ladder can cover well for really good players being unavailable - Franklin, Rampe, Heeney, are right up there any team's best players.
"There are others too.
"They've been able to pivot to younger players ... they've certainly improved as the year has gone on.
"I suspect we'll be playing them at close to their best for the year."
The sides have built a healthy rivalry in recent years, including clashes in the 2016 and 2017 finals series, but rarely has it been such a mismatch on the ladder.
"It's a great challenge for us to come up against one of the premiership contenders," Kennedy said.
"We'll test ourselves against the best, that's what the game is about."
James Rowbottom, Callum Sinclair and Jordan Dawson are back for the Swans for their final game of the season, in place of Lewis Taylor, Joel Amartey (both injured) and Sam Wicks (omitted).
Australian Associated Press