He might be without one of his greatest foot soldiers in the grand final but Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy believes his side has grown stronger through the trials and tribulations of 2018.
As the Storm prepared to build a defence to fight fullback Billy Slater's shoulder charge, Bellamy sounded like a man who subscribes to the 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' adage.
He was particularly pleased with the way his team went about overcoming injuries, suspensions and poor early-season form to get another shot at a premiership next week.
"I can't remember a year when our team has gone to a grand final that we've had as much ups and downs this year," Bellamy said.
"Part of that has been injuries. Part of that at the start of the year, not playing that well. But the consistent thing with this group is the amount of effort we've put in. That's got us to where we are at the moment.
"We've got four our five players [who played] their first semi-final two weeks ago. That provides a different mix on the field."
Bellamy will be up against one of his former pupils in the grand final - South Sydney's Greg Inglis or the Roosters' Cooper Cronk - and says he'll have to put emotions to one side.
"It would be a strange feeling," he said.
Match Highlights: Storm v Sharks - Finals Week 3; 2018
"Playing against Greg Inglis - he's still remembered what he did at this club. It will be little bit strange playing in a grand final against either of them. But we'll need to put that in the background."
Bellamy heaped praised on Slater after his superb performance against the Sharks.
Slater shone in his last game at AAMI Park, scoring two tries and running for 189 metres. He also made 10 tackle breaks and two line breaks.
"He was tremendous. He was always going to be," Bellamy said.
"His teammates got out there and followed him, especially in that first half. It was a really clinical team performance.
"It's inspiring that he's played this long that he still has that little boy's excitement about playing our game."
Melbourne flew out of the blocks and scored three tries in the first stanza. By the break, the score was 20-0.
"Our first half was outstanding," Bellamy said.
"The score showed that. The second half we tried a few things we didn't practise, we got off track. We always knew the Sharks weren't going to go away."