Australian teams are hopeful - but not quite confident - of improving their dismal Super Rugby form against New Zealand sides this season.
Sonny Bill Williams of the Blues fends off Waratahs' Michael Hooper.
All the building blocks are in place - more depth after the axing of the Western Force, improved fitness and conditioning programs built to satisfy Wallabies boss Michael Cheika, a few new coaches and some fresh tactical ideas.
It's enough of a platform for players and coaches to feel genuinely optimistic about 2018 after a horrific year for Australian rugby.
In 26 matches there was not a single Aussie win over a New Zealand opponent - a statistic that triggered soul-searching at Rugby Australia and the four remaining franchises over the summer.
But as ever, the proof will be in the pudding.
"It's hard to say at this point in time," Waratahs and Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper told AAP.
"You've still got to have coaches coaching the right things, the skills being up to the standard of Super Rugby.
"As far as I know, across the states, the teams are fit. That's only as good as a base.
"What fitness does is allows you to get to a level where most teams want to play.
"From what I have seen, we're in good stead."
There was a brief pang of euphoria on Saturday when the Queensland Reds upset the Chiefs in the quarter-finals of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens - unofficially ending that long losing streak.
But it won't be until March 30 - when the Melbourne Rebels host the Hurricanes in the first trans-Tasman clash of the season in round seven - that an Australian side has an opportunity to do it in Super Rugby.
Big things are expected from the Rebels, who have a new coach in David Wessels and a squad packed with 16 current or former Test representatives, many of them having followed him east from the Force.
"Everybody behind the scenes has worked incredibly hard over the last couple of months to really set a course for Australian rugby," Wessels told AAP.
"Not only from a coaching perspective but all the high performance staff, all the CEOs... I realise these things aren't going to take five minutes; it's not going to happen tomorrow.
"But I know we have the right people working hard and we have some really good thinking in place that I think will be a game changer for us over the next couple of years."