Pre-season success in a revamped NAB Cup had the Crows off to a flyer before the smallest of margins denied Adelaide a return the Grand Final under coach Brenton Sanderson.
Adelaide won five-in-a-row to claim the NAB Cup premiership over the West Coast Eagles in a morale boosting start to the year.
The home-and-away season had an equally impressive start, Adelaide went 7-1 with the a 56-point loss to Hawthorn the only low point. Both Showdown’s belonged to the Crows, a 19-point win in Round Five and a 58-point thumping in Round 15.
As the season wore on there was barely a misstep, especially with a 10-1 home record. Big home wins over top eight sides West Coast and Fremantle late in the season ensured Adelaide was right behind ladder-leaders Hawthorn. A Round 21 loss proved to be the difference as both the Crows and Hawks finished with 17 wins, Hawthorn with a superior percentage.
Interestingly, five teams sat in top spot throughout 2012, most notably Hawthorn and Sydney, yet Adelaide never reached the peak despite being in the top four for 17 rounds.
In the qualifying final, Adelaide hosted third-place Sydney and after a close first term the Swans pulled away for an impressive 29-point win. Adelaide welcomed Fremantle one week later, fighting back from a half-time deficit to beat the Dockers by 10 points.
The win set-up a tantalising trip to Melbourne with the Hawks standing in the way of a Grand Final return. Adelaide led at the main break, helped by Hawthorn’s inaccuracy, but as they continued to pepper the goals, Hawthorn soon took the lead. Adelaide did not give up, hitting the front late in the fourth before the Hawks responded with the last couple of goals for a five-point win.
Scott Thompson made it back-to-back Malcolm Blight Medals as the Club’s best player and alongside Patrick Dangerfield, was named to the All-Australian team. Taylor Walker finished fourth in the Coleman Medal with a career-best 63 goals.
Daniel Talia became the first Crow to win the NAB AFL Rising Star Award following a strong breakout season in defence.
After debuting in 2000, Michael Doughty called an end to his 231-game career with Adelaide.