THE thrill of the unknown is prevalent before any football season, but it's especially the case for Collingullie-Glenfield Park and Turvey Park before their clash at Crossroads Oval on Saturday.
In probably the most intriguing match-up of the first round, both teams will look to adjust to new-look line-ups in key positions.
Both teams have been among the more active in the recruiting stakes with the Demons adding tall forwards Sam Stening and Andrew Clifford, and welcomed back prime move Steve Jolliffe, among others.
Turvey Park are also noticeably different, particularly in height in important positions. Andrew Emery provides the big presence they badly needed up forward, Tim Doyle will help lock down a defence manned mostly by youngsters last year, and Jesse Margosis and Melbourne-based Callum Dooley add toughness and class to the midfield.
Although Clifford (finger) is in doubt and needed to get through training on Thursday to play, which coaching staff moves the magnets on the whiteboard best could have a huge say in the result.
"We've had a good pre season and the boys have worked hard, but you just don't know until you start playing," Bulldogs coach Michael Mazzocchi said.
"Our spine looks a lot better this year, with height and size in the right spots. Last year Will O'Connor did a great job as a 17-18 year old holding down fullback, but will now play on a flank and through midfield.
"Last year we rolled maybe six guys through centre half forward, but Andrew Emery hits packs hard and is a big imposing target.
"That's really important for us and Shaun (Allan) will almost be a recruit for us in the ruck, he played the first two months and we didn't see him again (with a knee injury)."
Dooley, Margosis' brother-in-law will travel from Melbourne each week and Mazzocchi expects the inside midfielder to be available for most games.
"He played really well for his first game in our intra club, he had a hamstring issue during trials and didn't play those," Mazzocchi said.
"We're not expecting big things out of him early because Victorian footy is coming out of a two year hiatus, but as the year goes on I think he'll play a big role for us."
Nick Perryman is preparing for his first official game as Demons co-coach.
He expects their improved quality and depth this year will be important as they look to improve on their fifth place finish last year.
"We've got more depth than last year, even with a couple of guys not up for selection which is pleasing," he said.
"We'll have to adjust on the fly in the early rounds and you can't go off much at the moment with some key 'ins' we have.
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