Fitting that 90 years on from being crowed Champions of Australia after defeating the premiers of Victoria, Carlton, at the Adelaide Oval, Port Adelaide should again finish on top of the nation in 2004.
But this was a different era and a different game.
It was not an easy road in a competition managed to ensure clubs never remain on top of the competition for too long through a form-based draft system.
But Port Adelaide (now playing with the ‘Power’ nickname in the AFL) had battled its way to the top of the competition after bottoming out in 2000 to finish in the top four in 2001 and as minor premiers in 2002 and 2003.
Those minor premierships bore no fruit on the grand stage of the AFL finals though, with first-round losses consigning the Power to away preliminary finals (and eventual losses) to Collingwood and the Brisbane Lions.
Those failed campaigns proved heartwrenching for the club’s faithful, as again Mark Williams’s men readied themselves for another tilt at the ultimate glory in 2004.
And again the Power dismantled its opposition - opening its account with three consecutive wins over Essendon, West Coast and Hawthorn and defeating other power house clubs Collingwood, Geelong and St Kilda during the year.
Guarantee your place at the historic first Showdown at the Adelaide Oval in Round 2 by becoming an 11-game reserved seat or Essential Power member today at weareportadelaide.com.au or by calling 1300 GO PAFC (1300 467 232).
The Brisbane Lions - it’s arch nemesis for three seasons and a club effectively formed in the AFL in 1997 as well by virtue of a two-club merger - won the only match of the minor round played between the two sides.
The Lions prevailed in early June at the Gabba in an important psychological blow to the Power, but Port Adelaide responded emphatically with six consecutive wins to stamp its authority on the competition.
Indeed between Round 12 and the grand final, the Power would only lose one game.
Finishing atop the ladder, Power supporters would have been understandably on edge when the club began its latest finals campaign.
With qualifying final losses to open its account in the previous two campaigns, there was much on the line for the Power in 2004.
Thanks in part to four-goal hauls from both Brendon Lade and livewire Byron Pickett; ably supported by triples from Stuart Dew and Josh Mahoney; the Power blitzed the cats in front of almost 40,000 passionate supporters to book a preliminary final at home.
That preliminary final was voted Port Adelaide’s greatest ever game in its 40-year history at Football Park by supporters as a true classic of football between two strong and talented teams.
The opponent was St Kilda and they started brilliantly, gaining the ascendency early with Fraser Gehrig kicking his 100th goal for the season.
As Saints fans streamed onto the turf to congratulate their hero, the Power - rattled early - regrouped and responded.
Leading by four points at half time in a real arm wrestle, the Power again battled in the premiership quarter with Saints putting their nose in front late, before Josh Mahoney ended up with the ball in his hands after the three-quarter-time siren about 55 metres from goal.
His kick failed to make the distance and the Power trailed by just one point with a quarter to play.
It was Gavin Wanganeen - the club’s inaugural AFL captain and one of its favourite sons - who responded.
Quiet for three quarters, his masterclass included two massive final quarter goals to lead Port Adelaide into the front and a one-goal victory at the final bell.
For all the celebrations that night, now came, undeniably, its greatest challenge in the AFL - the Grand Final. Against Brisbane.
On the biggest stage in Australian sport and in front of the largest global sports audience a team can play before, the Power ran out against the Lions in the ultimate battle for pride.
If Brisbane won, it would lay claim to being the greatest team in Australian Football history with four consecutive premierships. Now just Port Adelaide stood in its way.
The game was a typically tough battle, but the Power’s nerves were eased early with Josh Carr booting the first goal for the underdogs on the run from 40 metres out.
1914 in retrospect.
Teammates Brendon Lade and acting captain Warren Tredrea followed before the Lions converted their first through the enigmatic Jason Akermanis with a double, but Byron Pickett pushed the margin back out to 15 points with a great running goal from close range in the dying minutes of the quarter.
Then the Lions charged.
Byron Pickett again kicked clear after seven minutes, before Clark Keating, Daniel Bradshaw, Akermanis and Tim Notting wreaked havoc in the Power’s backline to poke the Lions' noses in front by six points.
An extra behind made it seven before Toby Thurstans kicked truly from a tough angle to close the margin to a single point at half time.
Whether it was years of absent success or that typical, burning desire in Port Adelaide teams to win grand finals, the Power came out after the long break and kicked itself 17 points clear thanks to Thurstans, Pickett, Josh Mahoney, Gavin Wanganeen and Shaun Burgoyne.
Wanganeen was in his element with two for the term to give his side a crucial buffer heading into the final quarter.
His form continued in the first five minutes of the last quarter with two quick-fire majors to seal the deal while Byron Pickett ran rampant around the ground in a masterful effort from the cult hero.
With the Power leading by 27 points after Thurstans’s third for the afternoon midway through the term, the result was all but academic even with Stuart Dew and Adam Kingsley joining the goal party before the final siren.
An outpouring of emotion after years of sustained but ultimately unrealised success took over the MCG on the siren, with acting (now premiership) captain Warren Tredrea and Mark Williams triumphantly lifting the trophy to the faithful.
Byron Pickett took the coveted Norm Smith Medal home ahead of similarly brilliant performers Kane Cornes, who performed a tagging masterclass on Brisbane dangerman Simon Black, Peter Burgoyne and Wanganeen who finished with four critical goals.
A season of ultimate and individual successes, 2004 is treasured among Port Adelaide’s faithful supporters to this day.
The club will recognise that success against Brisbane in Round 4 of the 2014 AFL Premiership Season by wearing a replica of its premiership guernsey when it hosts the Lions at the Adelaide Oval.
Guarantee your place at the historic first Showdown at the Adelaide Oval in Round 2 and the see the boys in the 2004 heritage guernsey by becoming an 11-game reserved seat or Essential Power member today at weareportadelaide.com.au or by calling 1300 GO PAFC (1300 467 232).
Notable victories in 2004
AFL Grand Final
Port Adelaide 17.11 (113) def
Brisbane Lions 10.13 (73)
Melbourne Cricket Ground
AFL Preliminary Final
Port Adelaide 14.10 (94) def
St Kilda 13.10 (88)
AFL Qualifying Final
Port Adelaide 18.9 (117) def
Geelong 9.8 (62)
Port Adelaide 12.13 (85) def
Adelaide Crows 9.6 (60)
Port Adelaide 16.11 (107) def
Collingwood 12.12 (84)
Melbourne Cricket Groun
Port Adelaide 18.15 (123) def
Carlton 5.10 (40)
Port Adelaide 26.15 (171) def
Hawthorn 13.12 (90)