WITH a continued change of luck, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley will finish the home-and-away season with more pieces than needed in the grand jigsaw puzzle at Alberton.
Such a luxury would be a timely blessing after all the plugging that has been required for the past two months to overcome a hefty injury count that still has Steven Motlop (ankle), Robbie Gray (knee), Tom Rockliff (DVT) and Lachie Jones (ankle) in the medical rooms.
The immediate reward from Sunday evening's 27-point win against top-eight challenger Greater Western Sydney under the closed roof at Marvel Stadium in west Melbourne is to command fourth spot (with now an attacking minded Sydney, rather than Brisbane, the major rival for the top-four double chance).
The more-lasting benefit (fingers crossed) is the minutes and confidence being gained by the return from the hospital wards of Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma, Zak Butters and Orazio Fantasia.
Add (now toes crossed) the experience of Motlop and Gray for when it really matters in September and Hinkley and his match committee are destined to have some fascinating selection meetings.
The debate on how the forward six set up became more fascinating on Sunday night when back-up ruckman Peter Ladhams highlighted his strength as a forward with his three goals, the first (that gave Port Adelaide the lead in the first term) inspiring memories of that Angus Monfries goal in the last Showdown played at Football Park in 2013.
Monfries' had more tricky bounces across goal than Ladham's one solid break off his left-foot snap but the result was the same, a significant goal amid a telling moment - Port Adelaide's first goal after 15 inside-50 entries.
Ladhams, Charlie Dixon, Todd Marshall, Mitch Georgiades, Sam Powell-Pepper, Fantasia, Butters, Rozee, Gray, Motlop ... provided the black cat stays away, there will be some tough calls to be made at selection.
This game - Port Adelaide's third consecutive match at the Docklands - started and ended with the same theme but different methods.
Port Adelaide's ability to lock the play solidly in its half and engineer repetitive inside-50 entries was powerful - and more productive in the last term (4.4) than the first quarter (3.4), perhaps by finding a better way to kick the ball inside-50 to avoid GWS strong-marking defenders such as Sam Taylor.
By turning flat-footed kicks from a mark to a penetrating play during the last quarter with a handpass to a running team-mate will draw much attention from the external analysts.
"In the first quarter, we controlled the ball," said Port Adelaide midfielder Karl Amon who had the ball a team-high 31 times.
"In the last quarter," he added, "we owned it as well."
The first period of dominance generated a 27-point lead. The second ensured a 27-point win.
In between, as there was against Collingwood a week earlier, there was a serious response from the opposition - this time with Greater Western Sydney able to create its own inside-50 flurries with the industrious work of Jacob Hopper and Josh Kelly. It became a one-point game late in the third term when - in fairness to GWS - the black cat was busy working havoc to the Giants' injury list.
So, another valuable four premiership points are banked; more match fitness is gained by the players coming off the injury list, in particular Butters (22 disposals) and Rozee; and a top-four ranking preserved by a persistent team that can work its way through match-day challenges.
If the debate on forward roles is to become difficult at selection, it is far from simple in defence either. Ryan Burton and Trent McKenzie have - after their injury jinxes - become solid men in the back half (Burton with great rebound and McKenzie with manic defending) to leave Hamish Hartlett and Tom Clurey in the waiting room.
The squad mentality at Alberton has allowed Port Adelaide to be well placed against a heavy injury toll. But there are only 23 spots on the team sheet, even in September.
There are still three hurdles along the road towards the finals - non-contender Adelaide, the erratic Carlton and the league-leading Western Bulldogs with venues and times all to be determined by COVID protocols.
The win against Greater Western Sydney - that takes Port Adelaide to an impressive 14-5 amid so many challenging tests in recent weeks - is a fine pointer to September.
As one critic noted: "It is coming together for Port Adelaide."
And now to Showdown L, as required "away" team in the 50th derby. And onto Adelaide Oval for the first time since July 8.