Regrets are an inevitable part of life. They come with the territory of breathing and are a part of the unwritten deal we all sign for the right to exist.

Although some contrition can feel enormous – such as the misery born when a relationship breaks down or after committing a far more criminal act – others are forgotten in the blink of an eye.

In terms of the unpredictable game of football, there are a plethora of scenarios that have made or broken careers.

What if your side picked a different player from a certain draft?

What if your star spearhead had kicked straight when it mattered?

What if the league never signed an unfavourable stadium deal?

Well, for fans of every creed we have sought to answer the question that has rankled you for years and kept you up at night for far too long.

We can't promise that we won't open old wounds, as let's face it, that is the entire point of the exercise.

From Adelaide to the Bulldogs, from Fitzroy to the Bears, here are every club's biggest 'what if' moments since the dawn of the AFL era in 1990.

For the third instalment, we'll be staying on in the River City.

What if the AFL allowed the Lions to play a home preliminary final in 2004?

For an ageing list looking to repeat the feats of the ‘Magpie Machine' of the late 20s and early 30s, playing a ‘home' final over 1,700 kilometres south of their den was never going to yield an ideal fallout.

But with a seemingly non-sensical deal between the league and the Melbourne Cricket Club stipulating that at least one final per week had to be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Leigh Matthews' Lions were forced to limp across a pair of borders to earn the right to play for a record-matching fourth flag in a row.

Recently in professional sports, the idiom of ‘any team, anytime, anywhere' has arisen. But for a team as banged up as Brisbane was in late September of 2004, if these words were uttered behind closed doors, they would have come with more than just a pinch of pink Himalayan.

Having destroyed St Kilda at the ‘Gabba by 80 points in the second qualifying final, the Lions were afforded the right to put their paws up in week two and wait to see who they would face in the out-of-town prelim'.

Although this period of recuperation would prove vital in helping the Queenslanders hurdle the Cats in week three, the league's demands that the three-time champions play their ‘home' final a full 24 hours after Port Adelaide had clinched their grand final berth in Adelaide remains a sore point for Brisbane's pride of supporters.

Adding to these woes was the fact that during their nine-point preliminary final win over the hoops, the Lions sustained injuries to key names in Shaun Hart, Craig Macrae, Alastair Lynch and Jonathan Brown.

Despite the fact that all, aside from Hart, got up for the big game, one can't help but wonder just how much taller they would have walked if they weren't asked to arbitrarily cross New South Wales by air twice.

Considering the facts that Lynch's quad blew out in the opening stages of the grand final, McCrae only found the ball on nine occasions and that a painkiller-filled Brown finished the clash goalless, it is little wonder why ‘Lethal Leigh' was incensed.

The four-time Premiership coach went so far as to claim that the league had “sabotaged” his side's chance of equaling history and cementing their status as the greatest side since Joseph Lyons ruled the roost in Canberra.

Matthews has since revealed that he felt an urge to physically assault league chief, Andrew Demetriou at the completion of the contest.

"They went to shake hands and offer their condolences, but my prickly mood was not into conciliation; it was into shooting the messenger,” the four-time premiership coach wrote in his autobiography ‘Accept the Challenge'.

"In my mind, the AFL denied us our best shot at winning a historic fourth consecutive premiership and here were the league's two main office-bearers and decision-makers (Demetriou and footy ops GM Adrian Anderson) having the temerity to act friendly when clearly they'd been the enemy.

"I was in no mood for diplomacy, frankly I felt more like punching them on the nose, and muttered to them, 'You blokes have got to be kidding', before turning my back and walking away.

"I always feel quite sick whenever I think about the culmination of the 2004 season."

Regardless of the bitterness, and any near tussle, there has long been a prevailing sentiment that any side that took on Brisbane after their east coast journey would have ended their silverware streak at three - not that this will be any consolation for St Kilda diehards still ruing Brent Guerra's goal square spill nearly 20 years ago.

Still, if the merged team had claimed four straight flags in '04, there would be no need for any discourse about which side is the greatest of all time.