MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 03: Daisy Pearce of the Demons celebrates on the final siren after winning the round one AFLW match between the Melbourne Demons and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Casey Fields on February 3, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Melbourne have the chance to make history on Sunday afternoon, one win away from claiming their first AFLW premiership after seven seasons in the competition.

The Demons will be trying to do one better than season six, which saw them fall by 13 points to Adelaide in the season decider after a preliminary final appearance the year prior.

In the midst of the confusion over scheduling, a welcome home for the Lions and a match-up of two teams worthy of playing the final game of the season, remains a fascinating, if not league-defining storyline - the future of Daisy Pearce.

The Demons skipper has been a consistent figure of not just Melbourne, but the league since its inception. A three-time All-Australian and club best and fairest, Pearce is in many ways the bleeding heart of Melbourne, and yet her future in the competition beyond this season remains clouded.

Heading into season seven, Pearce remained frank when asked about her playing future, taking it one game at a time as she hit the 50-game milestone. Now, the 34-year-old heads into the biggest game of the season without confirming her place in the game beyond the final siren.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 25: Daisy Pearce of the Demons celebrates the win on the final siren during the round four Women's AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Carlton Blues at Casey Fields on February 25, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Last season, the Demons came agonisingly close to securing their maiden premiership, but were overrun by Adelaide at the final hurdle. While they won't have the home-ground advantage this time around either, the newly completed Brighton Homes Arena is relatively new to the Lions too, with the grand final set to be the first game hosted at the ground.

The Demons lost just one game this season, as did their grand final rivals Brisbane, finishing with an incredible percentage of 282.1%, leaving the two best teams of the season vying for the ultimate prize.

While the skipper has surely dreamed of a premiership medallion hanging from her neck, her legacy in the game, and in Australian sport, goes beyond her on-field exploits, something that Pearce herself is aware of.

Speaking to The Age ahead of the preliminary finals, Pearce spoke about how it was "fulfilling" to see the transformation of the women's competition over her time in the sport, something that most would consider her a pivotal part of.

“Sometimes I look at my 18-year-old teammates and just have this envy that they've got like 15 more years of playing from this point. [But] I've kind of seen where it's [the competition's] come from and where it is now, even though it's just kind of getting started ... that's so fulfilling," Pearce said.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 02: (L-R) Libby Birch, Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman of the Demons celebrate during the 2022 AFLW Second Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 02, 2022 In Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Pearce's first game in the AFLW was the competition's inaugural round, held back in 2017, in which just eight teams competed for premiership glory.

In the season which saw Pearce reach the 50-game milestone, the competition has been expanded to 18 clubs.

At other levels of the game, female participation has soared as the AFLW competition has continued, while Pearce's broader work off-field in the media has further opened the door for female broadcasters to make their way in a traditionally male-dominated space.

It seems as though Pearce has reached the summit of footballing success, needing a flag to plant at the top to decorate an already long list of accolades.

But in reality, regardless of Sunday afternoon's outcome, or any decisions that come after, Pearce has already cemented herself among the league's greats, with or without a premiership medal.