For some clubs, round one of the AFL matters even more than most.
As Paul Roos and Alan Richardson prepare to lead their Melbourne and St Kilda sides for the first time, it’s impossible to escape the impression that this one matters a lot.
Wins are expected be to a precious commodity to their clubs this season and Saturday night’s Etihad Stadium match is a chance to set the tone.
Just ask Melbourne about losing their opening three games last year – by a combined total of 321 points.
Fans, corporates and spirit deserted the club as it became apparent the Demons’ season had no chance of success.
But reborn under premiership coach Paul Roos, the Demons begin 2014 with more realistic aims and a re-drawn playing list.
Roos has called on just 11 of Melbourne’s 2013 round one side to play the Saints.
While a few first-teamers, including Mitch Clark, Jack Viney and Chris Dawes are unavailable, Roos has moved quickly to rejuvenate the Demons with six players pulling on the red and blue guernsey for the first time.
Bernie Vince, Viv Michie, Dom Tyson and Daniel Cross continue their AFL careers after trades while running defender Alex Georgiou and goalsneak Jay Kennedy-Harris will make their AFL debuts.
The Saints will throw Luke Delaney and Shane Savage a fresh AFL start, with four debutants also in their team.
No.3 draft pick Jack Billings will debut alongside Eli Templeton and Luke Dunstan – with Richardson making his debut from the coaching box.
Part of the coaching set-up at five AFL clubs before being handed the senior coaching reins at St Kilda, Richardson said he was confident his young side would give it everything they had.
“I haven’t got the butterflies yet, perhaps that will come later,” he said.
“If we can all play our role and give 100 per cent effort from each one of us, we’re a chance to get the result we’re after.”
At least each coach has the consolation of ready-made excuses in the event of an honourable loss.
Roos has spent his pre-season as much in expectation management as list management, reminding all that the Demons are a “two and 20” club.
And in his first match as senior coach, Richardson will need time to adjust.
But if this one blows out, it could be a long season ahead for the losers.