MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley looks on during the 2018 AFL Grand Final Parade on September 28, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Three-time premiership coach Mick Malthouse believes only four teams are in the running to take out the flag in 2019.

Malthouse has named the four preliminary finalists from last season; Melbourne, Richmond, West Coast and Collingwood as the only teams that will challenge this season.

However, Malthouse sees a divide between those four clubs, believing two stand out above the rest.

“I don’t see another standout club challenging West Coast and Collingwood for the premiership cup this season — yet,” Malthouse wrote in an article for the Herald Sun.

“Question marks remain over Richmond’s ability to absorb Tom Lynch into its system. Lynch in the team means one less medium to small defensive type forward that the Tigers’ structure has been successfully based around.

“And Richmond’s use of the ball going into attack is quite often bludgeoning it forward or kicking it in at all costs, whereas Lynch needs to lead on to something.

“Melbourne could be as good as anyone, but first and foremost it has to get over itself.

“Melbourne fails to know how to get the foot to the throat and press down hard. The Demons release the pressure too soon and play like millionaires. This needs to stop.

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“These are the only four clubs I see capable of winning the flag this year.”

Malthouse believe Hawthorn and Geelong can be thereabouts given their recent successes, while Essendon “offers so much but gives little.”

The former Carlton coach believes the Blues have the potential to shake up the competition, and could even sneak into September action.

“On the contrary, Carlton has shown it is on the up, with No.1 draft pick Sam Walsh an absolute stand out. While Patrick Cripps dominates in the midfield, the Blues could battle it out for a spot in the final eight,” he added.