Plant yourself behind the wheel of your car before turning the dial to your local classics station and by the time you yank your keys from the ignition, chances are your drums will be met with the melodic whistles of a leather-clad quintet.
While German rockers ‘Scorpions’ still turn out in studded jackets and aviator shades, it took a shift from their hair-metal hammer blows to reach the pinnacle of charts across the globe.
With more than 485 million plays on Spotify, the Hannover native’s 90s hit ‘Wind of Change’ is still getting a run on both sides of Lower Saxony, however, the matter of the track is more dated than a shag rugged kitchen.
As the noted owner of a revolutionary ethos and a wardrobe stacked with fraying band t-shirts, the song's lyrics, laced with lines of Soviet reform, are unlikely to be foreign to Luke Beveridge and his distinct set of sensibilities.
Scratch the surface of his hippocampus, and you are sure to find notes on the perestroika strewn somewhere between a dog-eared copy of 'The Motorcycle Diaries' and vision tracking the herd mentality of Cape buffaloes.
In spite of his many motivational strides down an inordinate array of back alleys, the offbeat steward appears forced to attack the remainder of the season without the aid of an altering breeze at his back.
Still, for a club prone to teasing so soon after daring to please, the task of kicking into the bluster has become a familiar frustration.
At the 13-minute mark midway through the third term of last season’s decider, played out across the sands of the Nullarbor, the team of Melbourne's mighty west appeared set to toast their second premiership success in just six seasons.
But while Marcus Bontempelli’s fists were clenched, and his roar near audible through cross-continent streams, as he snapped his third goal of the evening, the skipper’s emotions were reversed by the time Optus Stadium’s lights were dimmed and the Dees had freed themselves from desire.
After a summer spent nasally swabbing, the Pups, led by their now mustachioed chief, primed themselves to traverse a fixture list with far more hurdles than straight. And with the finish line now in sight, ‘Bevo’s litter is faced with a familiar dogfight to keep unwanted history at bay.
Since joining the league in 1925, the Sons of the ‘Scray have played off in four grand finals, claiming a pair of premierships in 1954 and, of course, 2016. Although defeats at the hands of the Hawks in 1961 and the Demons last year saw both seasons shutter with less lustre, the fallout from all four deciders has been identical.
Though the boys of the Bulldog breed can be forgiven for starting, and eventually ending, the 1955 VFL season with a blinding hangover, after failing to make the cut for the five, Charlie Sutton’s side set a trend that remains irritatingly constant.
Despite just 0.6 of a percentage point proving enough to eliminate the 12-6 Dogs from defending their crown, the precedent set nearly 70 years ago is one that remains uninterrupted at the Whitten Oval, with the Bulldogs blowing genuine chances to make a finals return in each of 1962 and 2017.
In '62, Ted Whitten’s team charged into winter, desperate to atone for their 44-point shortcoming against the Hawks the season prior. However, after dropping games to the lowly Saints and Pies along the run home, the Dogs missed out on another date with destiny due entirely to the two lapses.
Fly through the mire of the 70s and 80s, over the near misses of the 90s and past their glorious wake from a once impossible dream, and the winds of change failed to ripple in 2017, with Bob Murphy’s men limping to the line after an erratic year as reigning champions.
While a month-long winning streak between Rounds 17 and 20 saw successive triumphs over Carlton, Gold Coast, Essendon and Brisbane, the Dogs’ precarious foothold in the eight evaporated after finalists GWS, Port Adelaide and Hawthorn successfully snuffed their season, with the Cinderella champs losing each clash by a collective average of four goals.
Within his acclaimed novel, ‘No Country for Old Men’, spent tracking the failures of men searching for fortune and salvation, the pen of Cormac McCarthy drawled, “you fix what you can fix, and you let the rest go. If there ain't nothin’ to be done about it, it ain’t even a problem. It's just a aggravation.”
But with the Bulldogs’ routine inability to rescale the mountain appearing clearer than the New Mexican sky in July, Beveridge not only has an aggravation on the mind, the man with the cowboy stash has a problem on his hands.
Ahead of a run home comprised of stops at the Docklands and across Bass Strait, players and powerbrokers on Barkly Street will have their abacuses out and their preferred ladder predictor tool refreshed in search of a fix.
According to Stats Insider, the Pups hold a 0.9 per cent chance of adding a third wreathed cup to their cabinet this spring, with this meagre figure doubled when their chances of joining the grand final dance card are concerned.
But when it comes to cuff linking themselves for the business end and finally breaching their September barrier, the Bulldogs are granted an 18.3 per cent chance of bucking the trend.
With the seasoned ilk of Geelong, Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as rising combatants Collingwood, Fremantle and Sydney, already sewing up their invitation to September, only two ladder rungs require filling, with possession still nine-tenths of the law.
Using the same metrics, Richmond has been rated an 86.5 per cent to regain their September status, with their old rivals across Swanston Street, Carlton, nipping at the Tigers’ heels, just 5.8 per cent behind.
Fractions aside, the equation remains simple – if the Dogs get the better of both the Giants and Hawks to round out their schedule and the Blues botch both of their remaining fixtures against Melbourne and Collingwood, the hoodoo is on track to be exorcised.
With their patchwork form of the past month at the forefront of minds, claiming those at Carlton are feeling the heat ahead of their date against the Dees is an understatement the size of a Newfoundland iceberg.
Heading into Saturday night off the back of two spirit-shrinking losses, and under the weight of club president Luke Sayers' pre-season prediction that Carlton were locks to reclaim their 'rightful' place in the eight, the Blues may still hold sway in seventh, but a burden of proof is on their shoulders.
Add in the fact Beveridge, Bontempelli and the remainder of their pack have already toppled the Giants and Hawks in successive weeks this season, and the case for some late tailoring is bolstered.
However, as the Dogs' final hurdle has been erected on what will likely be Hawthorn’s final hurrah at their Launceston lock away, if you’re a believer in omens or pockets of extra effort, you won’t have stamped their papers just yet.
Though a pair of ladder landing strips are still vacant as a series of possibilities remain air bound, what is known is that the final shape of the eight won’t be known until just before sunset on the season’s final day.
As a routine finals fancy, due in large part to the graft of household names Aaron Naughton, Bailey Smith and smiling assassin, Cody Weightman, the club’s 50,000 strong membership base were certainties to have crafted plans for grand final revenge ahead of March’s ides.
But after a stumble out of the blocks, losses to bottom-end outfits and just the three wins against genuine contenders, the Bulldogs will have nobody to blame but themselves if Carlton consigns them to an early ‘Mad Monday’.
As proven in sprints this season, the tri-coloured side’s best has been more than a match for any club in the competition, however, their peaks of the past haven’t been scaled, with issues at altitude halting all momentum.
Since the 1940s, the Bulldogs’ perpetually eclectic pack has spruiked that biting and roaring is their weapon of choice when it comes to claiming wins. But after opting to leave their latest assignment to the last minute, it will take their very best if they are to stem the saltwater tide and walk through unbeaten.
Down goes the EJ Whitten Stand.
— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) August 1, 2022
Bail up any punter that once filed onto the Whitten Oval’s concrete terraces or has parked themselves on its renovated banks, and they are all sure to spin tales of winds whipping and victories claimed with local nous.
And as the pillars of the EJ Whitten Stand have recently been razed to rubble, a new entry to the gale force freeway has been been paved.
But with no way of decerning whether the building breeze is strong enough to turn the pages of the past, Beveridge must stoke the flames of his proletariat before spring eventually springs.