New Adelaide coach Phil Walsh likens AFL clubs to formula one racing teams.
He says after spending all summer tinkering in the garage, only now are the real machines revealed.
“I have been happy with our preparation, I couldn’t ask any more of the players than what they have done physically,” Walsh said ahead of Sunday’s season-opener against North Melbourne at Adelaide Oval.
“They have had great buy in to what I have been asking them to do.
“We have had a strong NAB Cup. But at the end of the day, we are now to go into the formula one race, now we will actually see it at flat out pace and see whether we can get where we need to go.”
But Walsh cautioned against reading too much into round one form.
“It will take some time to work this season out,” he said.
“I personally think it’s going to be the most competitive season of AFL footy in a long time.
“We bat down to probably 16 teams who have legitimately got final aspirations so I think it’s going to be a fascinating season.
“People assume because of how you performed last year, that is exactly how you’re going to perform this year. Or people think there’s going to be this incremental increase in performance – it doesn’t always happen that way.
“And that is the exciting bit.”
Walsh, a long-time assistant now preparing for his first premiership game as a head coach, refused to risk two seasoned campaigners for the home fixture against the Kangaroos.
Veteran midfielder Scott Thompson and utility Sam Kerridge were overlooked despite recovering from recent hamstring strains.
But ex-Hawthorn backman Kyle Cheney will debut for the Crows against a North outfit featuring two new players – former Carlton forward Jarrad Waite and ex-Western Bulldog Shaun Higgins.
Waite and Higgins add top-line talent to the Kangaroos, who were beaten preliminary finalists last season.
And Walsh, seeking to return the Crows to the finals after a two-year absence, expected North coach Brad Scott to employ mainly the same tactics that took the Roos to the finals.
“They made a preliminary final last year so they aren’t going to change a lot of things, so there are some things there that we expect to see on Sunday,” Walsh said.
“But I’m sure Brad probably has a few things I haven’t seen as well.”