In assessing the runs of both counties to this afternoon's All-Ireland SFC final, there is no denying that Dublin's has been the most eye-catching.  

The late surge that saw them advance past Kerry three weeks ago was the last chapter in an epic contest.

Substitute Eoghan O'Gara and Diarmuid Connolly got the vital scores that kept the Dubs on track for back-to-back titles - a feat not achieved by the county since successive wins over Kerry and Armagh in 1976 and '77.  

Mayo's journey to this point has seen some flashes of brilliance, but on the flip side some lengthy fallow periods.

That said, since their defeat to Galway in the Connacht semi, they have played well within themselves, functional one would say, and the manner of the victory over Tyrone in the All-Ireland quarter-final showed their capacity to dig deep.

This final offers much in the way of intrigue, as much as you would find in a John le Carré or Frederick Forsyth novel.

Dublin, taking their squad into account, should have too much for Mayo. Some have concluded that Jim Gavin's side have more in their locker and that today's opponents could feel the wrath of their fury.

As for the men from Connacht, there have been many reminders in advance of this decider that there is a "big game' coming and that Stephen Rochford has timed their run to produce something special on the day that matters.

Not as audible have been a few murmurings that the side have perhaps gone past their best. We'll know from 3.30pm onwards whether Mayo are up for the battle.  

Further spice comes in the shape of the many match-ups that will ultimately decided this afternoon's encounter.

The continuation of the Diarmuid Connolly-Lee Keegan tussle will be keenly observed.  

The Westport clubman has come out on top in the recent championship exchanges to further enhance his reputation as a no-nonsense defender. He can also surge forward with intent to land crucial scores for his side.

Connolly has had an outstanding campaign to date and another strong 70 minutes from the St Vincent's player could be the catalyst for the Dubs to prevail.

Aidan O'Shea is down to start at centre-forward, where he'll  theoretically have Cian O'Sullivan - usually employed as a sweeper, for company. O'Shea is also expected to venture in towards full-forward and test out a Dubs full-back line that looked shaky enough on the high ball against Kerry, even when Kieran Donaghy was deployed further out the field.

Barry Moran is not named in the Mayo XV, but will probably start. Tom Parsons comes in at midfield, but don't be surprised if he is held in reserve until the second half if the game is still there to be won.

Could Alan Dillon be handed a start on the '40 to try and perplex O'Sullivan, and so leave Aidan O'Shea at full-forward from the off?  

The strength of Dublin's bench is there for all to see and how Mayo deal with the introduction of a Eoghan O'Gara, Paddy Andrews or Denis Bastick will also be telling in how this final-day puzzle will be solved.

And then there is the Stephen Cluxton factor.

My colleague Peter Sweeney has written about his worth to the Dublin cause and to the changing face of football, while also highlighting two recent occasions where the Parnells clubman went into meltdown.

Kerry got much joy approaching half-time when Cluxton got a dose of the jitters three weeks ago. In last year's drawn semi-final, when Mayo abandoned the policy of allowing the Dubs uncontested possession from kick-outs, they pushed up and it paid almost immediate dividends.

Cluxton's radar was badly off course in those final few moments - a contrast to the 2013 final where he was exemplary in finding his man from the placed ball.

Dublin are unbeaten in 27 championship matches and it's reasonable to suggest they'll make that 28 come 5pm.

However, the sense of anticipation that Mayo are going to give us that big game makes for what should be a compelling final chapter in this championship season.   

Watch live coverage of Dublin v Mayo on The Sunday Game on RTÉ One and the RTÉ Player from 1410 and follow our live blog on Live radio coverage on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 from 1400. Watch highlights of both the All-Ireland minor and senior finals on The Sunday Game on RTÉ2 from 2130.