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 a superstar stayed fit at a crucial juncture?

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, Fremantle, Geelong 

This one is for you, Suns supporters.

What if Gary Ablett's shoulder had remained intact during his fourth season as a Sun?

With over 40 names on every club's playing list each year, 23 in their game day squads, and 18 on the ground at any one time, football is without doubt a team game.

Yet, for the Gold Coast Suns' first seven years of existence, you could be forgiven for believing the opposite to be true, as once they paid the proverbial king's ransom to take the greatest player of the modern era from the Pivot City to the Glitter Strip, all eyes were only ever on one man.

Across the more than 150 years of organised football, injuries have gone on to derail the seasons of several teams every year. More often than not,  the team that eventually earns the right to hold the premiership trophy aloft is the team that has not only proven themselves as superior during playing time but is also the group that has been hit least with ailments.

Now, it may be a stretch to say that the Suns would have claimed the 2014 flag, but had Gary Ablett's shoulder not required surgery after an impact injury suffered in Round 16, then they would have at least been in the running – for once.

Although some cynics will press that this ‘one man team' notion is simplistic and inaccurate, if this is your belief, you only need look at how badly the Suns fell away after ‘The Little Master' was forced to trade his boots and socks for a sling just shy of a decade ago.

Gary Ablett of the AFL Gold Coast Suns speaks to media at Metricon Stadium on August 26, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

After 15 weeks of the 2014 AFL season, the Suns – then in their fourth season of existence - were on track to make history. With their 8-6 record, percentage of 101.2, and ownership of the ladder's eighth rung, the new kids on the block were trending towards a maiden finals berth.

Of all of the expansion teams that have entered the league since 1908, only the West Coast Eagles in their second year and the Adelaide Crows in their third would have played finals football before Gold Coast.

However, as can be seen from the highlights package below, the Suns' dreams went up in smoke after their king was ‘checkmated' in a Brent Macaffer tackle with plenty of time still on the clock in the third term.

Despite the fact that Gold Coast held a four-point lead - one they wouldn't relinquish on their way to claiming the four points over the Pies - history tells us that this exchange on the outer wing was the moment that their cue was forcibly removed from their grasp and placed back in the rack for another season.

In Ablett's absence, the Suns would only manage to rise for one more win from their remaining seven outings, with their season finally setting as they sat in 12th spot.

There is a myriad of queries that come from this one-on-one contest gone wrong, queries we try and get to the bottom of.

Firstly, the question of where the Suns would have finished the 2014 season had Ablett's wing not been clipped hurtles to the front of mind.

Well, of the eight teams that played finals that year Sydney, Hawthorn, Geelong, FremantlePort AdelaideNorth MelbourneEssendon and Richmond – the Suns held a 3-8 record in their contests with each prior to Ablett's sidelining.

Although this may seem an unimpressive ledger, if Ablett's shoulder never popped out, and the Suns were able to maintain this 37.5% win rate against fellow finals contenders, then it would have almost certainly seen them finish inside the eight.

In addition to this, if the Guy McKenna-led side also proved adept at beating sides below them on the table to round out the regular season, then a 14-win season would not have been beyond them – especially when you consider their relatively simple run home, comprised of clashes against non-finalists Brisbane, St Kilda, Carlton, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs.

And with 14 wins, the Suns could well have found themselves on the verge of a double chance.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01: Gary Ablett and Steven May of the the Suns sing the team song after winning the round 15 the Gold Coast Suns and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium on July 1, 2017 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

If you're still on the fence about Ablett's single-handed influence in 2014, perhaps you need reminding of the fact that despite only playing 14 full games that season, Ablett still managed to poll 22 Brownlow votes to finish just four behind the eventual winner, Matt Priddis.

Even if simple addition and subtraction is not your strong suit or not, it is obvious that had Macaffer's grip been compromised on the Sunshine Coast, then ‘GAJ' would almost certainly have a third ‘Charlie' to his name.

Whether or not the Gold Coast Suns would have done any damage in the 2014 finals series is a borderline unanswerable question. But even if they had simply just played off in September, the entire complexion of the club could well have been different.

Within this alternate reality, one in which the Suns aren't seen as perennial easy beats and perpetual rebuilders, there is a very real possibility that with Ablett fit and firing and the club's appetites whet by their inaugural finish in the eight, some of the talented names that departed Carrara could well have stayed on – including Ablett himself.

We can't profess to know who would have still left and who would have in fact stayed, but what we can say with at least a modicum of certainty is that had Ablett's shoulder never been crunched and surgically re-set, the expansion club's brief history would likely appear a lot less dull.

But whether the Suns would have won any silverware – apart from the honours Ablett claimed – is a point that even Nostradamus would have lost sleep over.