Exactly 12 months on from the day McRae was appointed as Collingwood's 20th senior coach in their cherished history, the first-year mentor finds himself at the doorstep of September in his rookie campaign at the AIA Centre.
Taking on the reins after the Magpies' 17th-placed finish last year, the South Australian has led Collingwood to a top-four finish and in the race for the premiership.
In their way to start their finals return are the minor premiers in Geelong, who collected the four points in the two sides' matchup in Round 3 with a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
Going into the weekend unfavoured to immediately advance to a preliminary final, the Magpies will need a full-strength squad to stand a chance in dismantling Geelong.
While Daicos (back), Howe and Adams (groin) were seen to be placed under some doubt for Saturday's final, McRae has been able to dash any concerns remaining around the trio.
"Nick's good to go. We rested him the last couple of days and he trained really well today," McRae said before letting out a little joke...
"You get excited for what he does. Winx didn't race in the midweek meeting.
"He's one of those lads that is always wanting to do more and better himself. He's an exceptional talent. He constantly wants to get himself better and he's coming in on the weekend doing weights.
"We'll say next time he can have the weekend off.
"'Howie' had a day off early in the week, he's good to go. So is 'Tay'."
The Magpies find themselves with almost a fully fit and firing senior side at the end of the regular season, with fringe trio Tom Wilson, Charlie Dean and Reef McInnes the only ones joining ruckman Brodie Grundy in having their seasons concluded for 2022.
Recruit Nathan Kreuger had been placed on the long-term injury list after a shoulder injury sustained on ANZAC Day, however his recovery efforts have him back in the selection frame in the final month of the season.
When asked of Kreuger's chances to feature in September, McRae gave the former Cat every chance to be in the mix, crediting his work rate since undergoing surgery earlier in the year.
"Potentially, yeah," McRae said of Kreuger's chances to face his former side.
"We watched what he did in VFL. He looked a bit rusty at times but had been out for 15 weeks. We'll just have to weigh up whether he's got enough load and energy to give us and what balance that gives us.
"Credit to him, it looked like his season was done. The longer we were going into it the more chance he had, but he's got to work. Now we're talking about an opportunity potentially for him."
McRae has flagged their matchup with Geelong as a "massive challenge" for his young group, stressing the need to dominate territory across the MCG in what is sure to be a fiery feud between the two Victorian clubs.
The Magpies were able to return to winning ways in Round 23 against the Blues and secure their top four spot, but the win didn't come without its concerns.
Collingwood were dominated by the Blues at the contest, losing the clearance battle by a deficit of 13, along with a negative buffer of 55 contested possessions.
McRae was clear a similar effort in the centre will see the Cats walk to the penultimate weekend of the season, with the Cats fit and firing as they embark on another September series.
"They're in great shape. Chris talked about their preparations, almost faultless. They've won 13 games in a row, they're gonna have everybody available, two games clear on top of the ladder," McRae said.
"Huge experience on their list, a lot of shared experience. It's gonna be a massive challenge for us. We need to get out hands on the footy.
"We've got to gain territory., Finals is all about territory, either from stoppage or however you can get it.
"Every inch you get is an ability for you to score or stop the opposition, so it's going to be a massive territory game."
Collingwood and Geelong will clash at the MCG on Saturday afternoon, with the match to commence at 4:35pm (AEST).