Harrow-Balmoral coach Nick Pekin thinks last year's abandoned season could be a blessing in disguise.
The absence of football and netball was a hammer blow to both rural towns, no doubt, but pressure was mounting on the Southern Roos.
The club coasted to the 2018 premiership, and all three football sides - the seniors, reserves and under-17's - triumphed in 2019.
Harrow-Balmoral was set to enter the 2020 season as the club to beat, with Pekin's charges now going over 1000 days unbeaten.
The dual premiership coach feared his side was building a sense of assurance.
"There was certainly some complacency coming into the fold, but I think now, with the year off, it's kind of a memory now where it's 'oh yeah we did win, didn't we'," Pekin said.
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"That (premiership pressure) is sort of not there now.
"But now it's fresh. It's a totally new group and just a tweak on the game style and structure, so it's all going pretty well."
The group that will hunt a third-consecutive premiership will be a blend of old and new.
Eric Guthrie, who was named best on ground in the 2019 grand final, has ventured north to Darwin, while fellow premiership player Hamish Ellis has moved to South Australia.
Coming the other way are a host of gun recruits and under-17 premiership players ready to step up.
Will Burberry joins from Tasmania, alongside Ballarat export Tom Conheady and former Harrow-Balmoral junior Matt Jones.
"Will will replace Eric Guthrie. He's a very similar player, so he'll play in the midfield and forward," Pekin said. "Tom Conheady is an exception, to be honest. He'll be playing across our half-forward flank alongside Michael Close. He's another 6'2" type player."
Michael Close, who has taken on the assistant coach's role, is expected to play the majority of the season.
The former Brisbane Lion managed just 10 games on his return in 2019 due to the lingering impacts of a severe concussion.
"I'm really lucky. He's already guiding those kids," Pekin said.
"What we're trying to do is partner up a senior player with a young player, just to guide them and teach them a bit more about the game and how we go about it."
It's been a long wait, but Pekin said he was champing to get back on the field again.
"We're a lot younger group, with the kids coming through," he said. "It will be pretty exciting to see what we can do and what we will be able to achieve going forward."
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