In the course of three stellar seasons, Richmond proved they could thrive without Alex Rance, without a conventional tall forward line, without big-bodied midfielders and for periods without Trent Cotchin and even Jack Riewoldt.
Whatever test of mettle, personnel, or system was thrown at the Tigers, they overcame.
But there’s been one examination that Richmond has not passed, and which the Tigers flunked completely against Hawthorn at the MCG: they are still to demonstrate that they can cope without the talismanic presence of the game’s most potent player, Dustin Martin.
In the decisive first half, when the Hawks built their match-winning lead, the Tigers scored an F in the Dusty test. They were done and Dusty-ed.
This was not the first time the Tigers had proven, if not toothless, then without much bite without Martin. In the 2018 preliminary final – when the game was likewise gone in a half and Mason Cox had his 15 minutes – Dusty was hobbled and might as well have been in the stands; early last year, when Martin was smothered first by Levi Greenwood and then by Matt De Boer at Giants Stadium, they were also beaten easily (a contrast with their grand final meeting with De Boer/GWS).