Geelong veteran Mathew Stokes says it has been an emotional few weeks of goodbyes at the club, but he remains hopeful succession planning will ensure the Cats remain premiership contenders.
As he prepares to play a key role in Australia's bid to topple Ireland in the international rules series, Stokes is also dealing with the departures of four men who were more than just teammates.
Paul Chapman, Joel Corey, Josh Hunt and James Podsiadly have all retired or been told their time was up since Geelong's dramatic preliminary final loss to Hawthorn.
''You play so much footy with these guys, they become more than teammates,'' Stokes said.
''To see it happen, in one way you are a bit upset and sad about it, but the other way is you have got to acknowledge the careers they have had.
''As a player you have just got to back in the club that they are doing the right thing for the footy club … You have got to move on as a quickly as you can.''
Coach Chris Scott has repeatedly made it clear that he believes the Cats can remain an elite side while drafting in fresh talent.
He has been true to that pledge, with departures of key figures after the 2011 premiership and again in 2012 giving more game time to young talent and ensuring the Cats were again a serious challenger in 2013.
That Geelong's senior players embrace their younger counterparts has also helped.
''I think that's one of the good things Scotty has brought to the club - yes, we want to have success now, and we want to have shots at grand finals, like we have been able to do, but we also want to invest time into these young guys and give them games,'' Stokes said.
''I think that's what we have done really well over the last couple of years - give these guys games and experience while we still have a lot of experience in the side.''