TELEVISION networks have to decide which AFL games they want to cover a good five months before a football season even starts. It's not an easy task.
But someone at Channel 10 must today be wishing they could have their choice for round 20 again.
On Saturday night, Ten got to send a national audience to sleep with one of the most monumental mismatches of the year - Collingwood smashing Port Adelaide by 138 points in the sort of miserable wet weather that seems a backdrop to virtually every night game played at AAMI Stadium.
Meanwhile, those prepared to splash out on Foxtel got what has to be close to the game of the season - a thriller between Essendon and Sydney which had huge dollops of drama, courage and, unlike the other yawnfest, enormous ramifications for two teams' finals hopes.
It was unfortunate timing for the AFL, with the spectre of lopsided thrashings looming larger towards the end of this season, a debate discussed in detail in yesterday's Sunday Age and given further fuel by Magpie coach Mick Malthouse's comments after his team had barely raised a sweat against the Power.
But while the nine 100-point plus beltings in the AFL this season are a massive jump on the four last year and only one in 2009, Saturday night's classic at Etihad Stadium offered at least some perspective.
It's important to remember that along with the pastings (three of which have been dished out to the debutant Gold Coast) there have been three draws and, after Essendon's post-siren win and Adelaide's five-point thriller against Brisbane yesterday, 24 of 155 games played this far decided by fewer than 10 points.
That figure represents 15.4 per cent of games played. In 2010, we had 30 of 176 games decided by single-figure margins, about 17 per cent. So while we're getting plenty more floggings, we're not necessarily seeing fewer thrillers.
If the Essendon-Sydney game wasn't the best clash of the season to date, it certainly ranks in the top handful.
They're just two of a pack of up to half-a-dozen teams that, in terms of capacity, are within a hair's breadth of each other. And their contest betrayed just how narrow is that gap.
There wasn't a single element of the modern game not shown off in spades by the Bombers and Swans.
Drama? Adam Goodes's mark a few seconds before the siren and shot to win the game after the bell has that covered. So does Lewis Jetta's amazingly costly handball turnover that led to the first of Essendon's match-winning goals just moments after he'd kicked what had appeared to be the sealer.
Heroics? While Goodes might have missed narrowly, and butchered a couple of other "gifts", his game individually was one of the best handful of 2011.
Courage? Daniel Hannebery's backing into the oncoming train that was Michael Hurley might have been the biggest single display of that quality we've seen all year. Skill? How about Paddy Ryder's screamer and Ben McGlynn's amazing effort to keep the ball in, then checkside a goal on the run.
Promise? Young guns Sam Reid and Jake Carlisle fought a hugely entertaining key position duel, one we're likely to be drooling over for the next decade.
Entertainment? While the Swans often get a bad rap aesthetically, this game pulsated from start to finish, the manic frenzy of the contests still regularly breaking open into fast, running football.
And the stakes? Massive. Sydney's probably still going to make the final eight, but for Essendon, with a decent test against the Western Bulldogs next week followed by West Coast in Perth, defeat would have equated to death.
With five teams out of the finals running for a while now, of course there will be games where sides with something to play for beat up on those that don't. This year certainly hasn't been as exciting as was 2009, which remains the best single season of football I've seen, perhaps not as good as last year, either, but it's by no means been a stinker.
And while we'd all like to witness a few less beltings, it's probably a trade-off with which many could live if the flipside is tight, gripping football contests as riveting as was the epic played out by the Swans and Dons.