Melbourne are out to prove their horror 2019 AFL season was an aberration, rather than a reversion to the norm.
The Demons crashed from a preliminary final in 2018 to 17th last year - a drastic drop-off that resulted in a massive change in coaching and playing personnel, along with a captaincy overhaul.
They have made no secret of their determination to return to a more respectable position in 2020 - even creating a pre-season documentary series about their bid to regain respect.
With coach Simon Goodwin contracted until the end of 2022, the Demons made some reshuffles in the coaching ranks - led by signing former St Kilda mentor Alan Richardson - designed to support the 43-year-old's bid to turn things around and return to finals.
"I think the pressure comes in footy when you have years like (we) had - we finished 17th, we won five games," Goodwin said.
"Now you've got to recognise that pressure's going to be there but I know we have a great group of coaches, I know we've got a great group of players.
"For me personally I'm really confident in my ability to lead this club back to a position in finals footy."
Melbourne's most appealing attributes are obvious: newly-appointed captain Max Gawn and star on-baller Clayton Oliver.
The duo were the two highlights of a dire season and look set to continue to be one of the AFL's best ruck-rover combinations again - but desperately need some genuine support.
Melbourne's one-dimensional midfield came under fire in 2019, with teams cottoning on to their contested-ball focus and instead looking to exploit them on the spread - with damaging effect.
In a bid to amend the situation, the Demons targeted runners Ed Langdon (Fremantle) and Adam Tomlinson (GWS), with the duo set to occupy the MCG wings in 2020, while Darren Burgess was a prized acquisition as strength and conditioning manager.
Melbourne will also hope to reap the rewards of Christian Petracca's more consistent move into midfield.
The prodigiously-talented Petracca was Melbourne's leading goalkicker and finished fifth in their best and fairest in 2019.
"You have to be (excited about Petracca) because of what you've seen at training for the last six months, what you saw in the back end of last year and what you saw (in Melbourne's first pre-season match)," Goodwin told the AFL's In the Game podcast.
"He can have an enormous impact, not only for the Melbourne footy club but on this competition."
Jack Viney would have been gutted to lose the captaincy but, finally free of lingering foot injuries, has the opportunity to find his best football again.
There are also clear issues to amend at both ends of the park.
Steven May and Jake Lever must stay fit and fire in defence, while key forwards Tom McDonald and Sam Weideman will hope their difficult 2019 seasons prove mere blips in their respective careers.
The Demons will also give new draftees Luke Jackson and Kysaiah Pickett every chance to shine in their debut season
Pickett is a crafty, clever small forward capable of pinching goals from nowhere - something Melbourne desperately need - while ruckman Jackson has the athleticism and football smarts to feature early.
The Demons will need to fire early, too.
Melbourne travel to Perth to play West Coast first-up, then host 2019 grand finalists GWS in round two.
The clashes with two likely premiership contenders shape as the perfect tests of Melbourne's mettle and a chance to see whether they're genuinely set to bounce back, or if their pre-season talk is just that - talk.
Turn up and they could set the tone for a 2020 rejuvenation.
Otherwise it could well be yet another long year in red and blue.
Australian Associated Press
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