In Preliminary Finals since 2000 teams finishing in ladder position 1 are now 3-0 over teams finishing 3rd, and teams finishing in ladder position 2 are 5-0 over teams finishing 4th.
Overall in Preliminary Finals, teams finishing in 1st now have a 70% record, teams finishing 2nd an 80% record, teams finishing 3rd a 38% record, and teams finishing 4th a measly 20% record. This generally poor showing by teams from 3rd and 4th has meant that we've had at least 1 of the top 2 teams in every Grand Final since 2000.
Reviewing the middle table in the diagram above we see that there have been 4 Grand Finals since 2000 involving the teams from 1st and 2nd on the ladder and these contests have been split 2 apiece. No other pairing has occurred with a greater frequency.
Two of these top-of-the-table clashes have come in the last 2 seasons, with 1st-placed Geelong defeating 2nd-placed Port Adelaide in 2007, and 2nd-placed Hawthorn toppling 1st-placed Geelong last season. Prior to that we need to go back firstly to 2004, when 1st-placed Port Adelaide defeated 2nd-placed Brisbane Lions, and then to 2001 when 1st-placed Essendon surrendered to 2nd-placed Brisbane Lions.
Ignoring the replays of 1948 and 1977 there have been 110 Grand Finals in the 113-year history of the VFL/AFL history, with Grand Finals not being used in the 1897 or 1924 seasons. The pairings and win-loss records for each are shown in the table below.
As you can see, this is the first season that St Kilda have met Geelong in the Grand Final. Neither team has been what you'd call a regular fixture at the G come Grand Final Day, though the Cats can lay claim to having been there more often (15 times to the Saints' 5) and to having a better win-loss percentage (47% to the Saints' 20%).
After next weekend the Cats will move ahead of Hawthorn into outright 7th in terms of number of GF appearances. Even if they win, however, they'll still trail the Hawks by 2 in terms of number of Flags.