Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew says Saturday night's match against league leaders Geelong is a test for the SUNS' maturity now they're out of the finals race.
Despite having its best season under Dew's leadership with nine wins to date, last Saturday's seven-point loss to Hawthorn left Gold Coast in 11th place and unable to make the top eight.
Now they face the best team in the competition at Metricon Stadium.
"Mathematically we're not alive any more, that's a test for us, our maturity, to make sure we can deliver our brand as best we can," Dew said following training on Wednesday.
"We've kept a narrow focus all year with consistency, but that's going to be tested on the weekend."
Dew said there were no regrets in 2022, but conceded they needed to start well against the Cats to be any chance of any upset.
The SUNS have won the first quarter in just four matches this season, a figure matched only by bottom-placed North Melbourne for its futility.
"You can't give any team a head start," Dew said.
"We have given teams a few goals head start and you're trying to chase it down, and that's commendable, but that's not the position we want to be in.
"Against the number one team, it's paramount we don't wait until half-time or quarter-time because they'll punish us."
Out of contract small forward Izak Rankine opted for a new hairstyle at the main training session, dying it blonde underneath his white Gold Coast cap.
Dew said the 22-year-old had his "ups and downs" dealing with the speculation about his future, but was confident he would play well at the weekend.
"He's a young lad who's clearly got a lot of attention on him, so our job is to support him and get him to play his best footy.
"He's had ups and downs, but this week has been really good. Last week when it was all getting talked about a fair bit, did that affect him a little bit? Maybe. But part of his role is to pick himself up and get going and part of our role is to help him with that.
"I haven't accepted anything, that he's staying or going.
"We've said all along we're confident this is the place for him to live and play footy and that hasn't changed from our end."