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 crippling injuries never reared their head?

What if a superstar kicked straight when it mattered most?

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.

OTHER WHAT IFS: AdelaideBrisbane BearsBrisbane LionsCarltonCollingwoodEssendon, Fitzroy 

For those with purple hearts, beware; this one is going to sting.

What if the Dockers kicked straight during the 2013 AFL Grand Final?

After dispatching fellow top-four finishers Geelong and Sydney in September of 2013, the Fremantle Dockers were afforded their first opportunity to add something tangible to their trophy case when they faced off against Hawthorn in the season's final game.

Having never made it to the grand final stage in any of their previous 18 campaigns, the Dockers were predictably nervous against their more seasoned opponents, and it showed, with the men in purple producing just two scoring shots to the Hawks' five in the first term.

Frustratingly for head coach Ross Lyon, both of the westerner's strikes at goal ended in behinds, whilst Hawthorn - the year's leading side – was good enough to finish the stanza with 2.3 on the board.

This failure to convert continued throughout the second term, with Lyon's men entering the sheds with a wasteful 1.6 to their name as opposed to the Hawks' 5.5.

Though the oft-maligned Dockers would eventually split the sticks for a second time in the second minute of the third term, before eventually drawing within three points of their opponents in the 25th minute of the ‘premiership quarter', by the time the siren sounded to end the third term, the Dockers were back down by double digits.

Following an Alastair Clarkson rev-up at the final break, Hawthorn proceeded to post the next six scoring shots of the game at a coin-flip conversion rate of 50 percent.

Still, the Fremantle continued to fight and produced the final six scores of the game.

However, by the final siren's sound, the Hawks had claimed the first of their impending three-peat of flags by 15 points, all despite both teams finishing with 22 scoring shots.

As can be seen from this trimmed footage, Nat Fyfe – at that stage Brownlow-less – produced a pair of the ugliest set shots in grand final history, either one of which would have erased any lead that the Hawks then held.

To gain a deeper understanding of whether or not the Dockers could, or should, have broken their drought on September 28, 2013, one can either re-watch the entire contest and run a fine-tooth comb across every attempt at goal, or they could save their time and consult those in the know that were there on the day.

According to Champion Data – the official supplier of statistics for the AFL – Fremantle should have won the 2013 decider by a margin of six points.

As numerically minded folk, you would expect the aforementioned company to show their working, and that is just what analyst Glenn Luff did in February of 2014.

“Based on the AFL average across the shots that they had, Freo should have won,'' Luff told The Herald Sun.

“It felt like Hawthorn was in control for most of the game, but you look at the raw numbers and it was all pretty close.

Hawthorn nailed them and Freo didn't.''

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 28: The Hawks celebrates with the Premiership Cup after winning the 2013 AFL Grand Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Fremantle Dockers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 28, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

After examining the distance and angle at each shot was taken, as well as the perceived pressure each kicker was under, Champion Data concluded that had the Dockers taken their chances, the final scoreboard would have read 14.10 (94) to 12.10 (88) in their favour.

This final scoreline is even starker in the cold light of day when you consider that in reality, Fremantle's half-time total of 12 points was at that stage the lowest score for any side at that stage of a grand final for 53 years.

With Fremantle producing five more shots on goal than Hawthorn – 29 to 24  – Luff and his team placed a sizeable portion of the blame at the feet of Hayden Ballantyne and Nat Fyfe, as the pair combined for just under a quarter of the Dockers' total shots (7), yet only managed a paltry 0.3 between them.

Fyfe's failures in front of goal were only compounded by the fact that up until the final afternoon of the season, he had converted a dead-eyed 12.1 in 2013.

“My goalkicking hasn't let me down all year and it sort of did today,'' the then-budding star said in the immediate aftermath of the loss.

“I can't put it down to anything. There's no real excuse. It just didn't go right on the day.''

Although Luffs' weighted opinion answers our question, all it is likely to do for members of the ‘Purple Haze' is to open their most painful shared wound.

Still, with Justin Longmuir's side trending upwards, and Fyfe still contracted at Cockburn, the Lake Grace lad may yet get his chance at atonement before the Sun sets on his already tremendous career.