Port Adelaide is fixtured to have its bye in Round 13. Image: AFL Photos.

NOTHING is as certain in life as death, taxes ... and raised eyebrows with the AFL fixture. This time, the bye - or rather the two byes - has intrigued (and bemused) many.

Season 2024 opened as a replica of the 1992 AFL premiership race - with just four games and the majority of the current 18-team competition idle with the bye.

In 1992, it was four games spread across Melbourne, Adelaide and the Gold Coast and seven teams with the bye. In 2024, the AFL introduced "opening round" with four games spread across Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast and 10 teams with the bye.

This year - as in 1992 - the AFL did not have all eight teams from opening round shuffle to play a rival that had already started the season. Gold Coast, Melbourne, Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney each were handed an opponent coming off the bye. Not surprising that three of the opening round teams won in round two; only Brisbane failed on the road against Fremantle.

In 1992, three teams from round one were pitted against sides coming off the bye - Geelong, Brisbane and Essendon; and they all lost against teams that were breaking off the rust of a long summer.

In 1992, the bye rolled out each week while the AFL dealt with a 15-team competition - a theme that could repeat with the entry of Tasmania in 2028 expanding the league to 19 teams.

The "luck of the draw" was in the timing of your team's bye.

In 2024, there is a deep watch on how the early bye potentially advantages the eight teams from the opening round. Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Greater Western Sydney, Collingwood, Carlton, Melbourne and Richmond have their first byes spread from rounds two to six.

All 18 teams will have their second bye allocated across four weeks from rounds 12 to 15.

Port Adelaide will have its bye in round 14 - as will Fremantle. These are the only teams that will be idle in round 14.

Does Port Adelaide resume in round 15 against the Dockers for fairness and integrity in the fixture? No, it will play Greater Western Sydney that will be on the return from a clash with Hawthorn in Tasmania.

Last season, Port Adelaide had its bye with five other teams in round 15. Did it resume against any of those five teams that were also on the bye?

No, the opponent was Essendon that had spent the previous weekend in Perth.

The timing of the byes and the match-ups on returning from the bye will be contentious issues this year. 

Already, Geelong premiership coach Chris Scott has taken issue with the spread of the bye among the eight opening round teams saying publicly to the AFL: "Don't pretend it is not a compromised (fixture)."

New AFL football boss Laura Kane has promised a review of the early season bye. She also needs to question her colleagues at AFL House on why teams coming off the mid-season bye do not play sides that also were on a break at the same time.

The AFL fixture has many vagaries amid many complicating needs to satisfy clubs, stadium operators and broadcasters. But the failure to keep teams on equal footings during the bye month is one error that should not be difficult to fix.

The question as to what advantage teams with byes from rounds two to six gain is sure to influence the feedback on the fixture from the 10 teams that did not feature in opening round.

Nothing is more certain, except death and taxes.