THE WEEK off for Brisbane has been a godsend says coach Craig Starcevich as the Lions prepare to host their first final ever at the Gabba against Collingwood on Saturday.
Brisbane finished the nine-round home and away season in second place, but Starcevich said he could see signs it was struggling in the final round loss to Melbourne.
The Lions had a brutal run home with both strength of opponent and travel, beating Fremantle in Perth, taking out GWS six days later in Canberra, and then defeating the Magpies in Melbourne after a venue switch 24 hours before the match.
They finished with a home win against North Melbourne and a narrow loss to the Demons at Casey Fields.
"I just thought by the time we got to round nine against Melbourne, we were good for three-and-a-half quarters but didn't quite hang on until the end," Starcevich said.
"I just thought the wear and tear of what we'd done and how far we'd travelled in that time was maybe starting to catch up with us.
"One week off at home, Easter, they've trained with great energy this week and been super.
"Our game's linked to energy and I think that's a key thing we've been able to rejuvenate and get going again."
Brisbane clung on to defeat the Magpies by three points at Whitten Oval a month ago, and Starcevich said there was both good and bad things to take away from that game.
One huge positive was the performance of Cathy Svarc, who blanketed Bri Davey for much of the afternoon.
Starcevich said he was keeping his options open to who his best shut-down player would run with on Saturday.
"They've got a pretty impressive midfield," he said.
"Any one of their three, (Jaimee) Lambert, (Brittany) Bonnici or Davey could be someone you put more time into.
"The assumption is she's (Svarc) the only one in our team that brings that level of defensive pressure, but they all (midfield) have that capacity and have shown that capacity across the year.
"Her style of play is not necessarily, 'I'm not touching it and you're only getting it 10 times', her style of play is, 'If it's there to win it, I'm going to get it'.
"She's been really good offensively and plays that accountable midfield role better than anyone I've seen this year."