Any time you have even slightly doubted Deer Park over the past six years in the Western Region Football League division 1, you have ended up with egg on your face.

Ask any of the other nine coaches in the competition and they will all tell you straight up that the six-time defending champion Lions are the team to beat until such time as someone knocks them off their perch.

Teams have lined up to take a swing at the Lions in finals and even on grand final day, but all have failed.

Is 2019 the best chance yet for a side to bring down the mighty Deer Park?

It seems so with the most open premiership race in years.

The fear factor of the Lions is not like it once was and they have their own issues when it comes to form and fitness.

Even Lions coach Marc Bullen is happy to pass on the premiership favourites tag to Altona, the side that beat his team by 16 points at John McLeod Reserve on Saturday.

It does not appear to be a mind trick from Bullen either, who has watched his side lose to the Vikings in both meetings this season.

It is acknowledgement from Bullen of where his side currently stands.

“They’re the best team in the competition, we know that,” Bullen said.

“Their ability to win contested footy and use it well through the channels was very good today.

“They’re a very good side.”

Bullen has seen Altona front and centre on two occasions to come up with an opinion and all the data backs him up that Altona is the best team so far.

But Bullen’s comments come with a caveat.

He is adamant Deer Park has not scratched the surface of its potential because of its inability to clear the medical room.

Deer Park

Deer Park’s Chris Stewart takes a strong mark Photo by Damjan Janevski.

PHOTO GALLERY: Altona vs Deer Park 

And no other side has shown it can get the job done against the Lions in a cut-throat final.

The bottom line is, write Deer Park off at your own peril.

“They [Altona] were ready to go and they played better than us today, and deserved their win,” Bullen said.

“When we made a mistake, they capitalised on it.

“We still have a lot of upside.

“We had about 25 per cent of our side underdone.

“I’m sure we can get ourselves back, ready and prepared going into finals.”

Deer Park will need a big finish to secure a top-three spot, which comes with an all-important double chance.

The Lions have not had to take the long road to the premiership in this dynasty and will be desperate to avoid a potential elimination final.

With trips to Hoppers Crossing, Spotswood and St Albans in the next four rounds with a home game against Werribee Districts in between – all four opponents striving for a top three finish – the Lions will need to take some big scalps to lock up third spot, otherwise they will be taking that long route in the finals.

The good news for the Lions is forward Spiros Amarantidis and key defender Jackson Barling could be available for Saturday’s clash with Hoppers Crossing, while a number of others will be better for their runs against Altona.