Star Wangaratta forward Michael Newton is in the best condition of recent years as he looks to reclaim his title as the league's best player.
To round out a rotten year, the red-hot favourites were ambushed by Lavington in the grand final.
"Yeah, touch wood at the moment, I've had a pretty good run in the pre-season," he said.
"I didn't play cricket this year, my body was getting a bit tired and sore, mentally it was pretty exhausting after a fairly disappointing year personally and from a team perspective."
Coach Luke Morgan is delighted with the pre-season of a handful of his most experienced players.
"Matt Kelly and Mick Newton have come back very fit and they've been going really well," he said.
Matt Kelly and Mick Newton have come back very fit ... without doubt, they're ahead of the game.Luke Morgan
"Without doubt, they're ahead of the game (compared to the corresponding time last year).
"Matt Hedin is also training really well, his body's also in great condition, so we're expecting good things out of those three."
Utility Hedin played 21 games last year, but the Pies were able to get only 24 matches between the dynamic Newton and powerhouse midfielder Kelly.
Newton, in his fifth season with the Pies after an AFL and SANFL career, has altered his training program.
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"Instead of heavy lifting in the gym as I have in the past, I'm still doing that, but not as much," he said.
"I'm doing more endurance-based gym work to try and put myself under a bit more fatigue and get the cardio going a bit more.
"I'm getting my body in the position to do more sessions and I haven't missed a session for a while.
"I'm doing everything I need to at the moment to get myself fit and firing for the start of the year."
Newton's fitness is also good for the league as one of its most watchable players.