Brisbane Lions mainstay Ally Anderson admits she briefly doubted her team's AFLW credentials but says hardship has steeled them to improve a grating grand final record.
The Lions will play North Melbourne in Sunday's Ikon Park decider, their fifth grand final out of a possible seven.
That's despite the squad constantly losing top talent to expansion teams in the fast-growing league.
A 1-3 grand final record doesn't sit well though, with the Lions particularly gutted after a four-point loss to Melbourne that also marked the opening of their Springfield facility last year.
"In the lead-up and year in general I didn't think about it," inaugural Lion and All-Australian Anderson said of that dismal record.
"Now you're back it plays on your mind a little bit more.
"It's about using those feelings for energy into the weekend.
"How can we do better, how can we fix it ... more positive thoughts than anything.
"(Last year's loss) wasn't a great experience ... we're in a different position now, going down to Melbourne. We'll use it for fire."
Brisbane's 7-3 regular season included losses at home to Richmond and Collingwood.
But they are unbeaten in all four of their games against North Melbourne since the Kangaroos' 2021 inception, coming from 18 points down at halftime to win by two in this year's fourth round.
"It's been a good thing having those downs as it's made us much stronger in the mind and much more determined," Anderson said.
"I'd be lying if I said (my belief) didn't (waver). There was a few games there where I was questioning how far we can go.
"Then we'd have good wins and it'd be like, 'We are good, we can do this'.
"We definitely feel like we're up there with the best."
All-Australian forward Dakota Davidson will get a chance at Thursday's open training session to prove her fitness, scans clearing her of a serious knee injury in the side's preliminary final win.
Australian Associated Press