Forget the early September departures that have come to define Richmond – the Tigers are a team on the march.
Their recruiting says as much, with coach Damien Hardwick bolstering his midfield and adding the line-breaking talents of Chris Yarran.
Their list profile agrees, with a host of key players entering their best AFL years.
And captain Trent Cotchin clearly thinks so too, with a declaration that should have Tigers fans thinking past week one of the finals.
“We go in thinking we’re going to contend. Otherwise you’re a pretender,” Cotchin told AAP.
“But the comp’s that even. It’s that even and tight you’ve got to be in the contest every time.
“It’s about giving ourselves the opportunity to play finals first and foremost.
“Whether that be top two, top four, top eight, we need to be there.
“We’ve had the experience. We’ve tasted it. We want to be a part of it again.
“We want to win it. But there’s a lot of work to be done.”
That Richmond are contemplating a first flag in 36 years says a lot about the reshaping of their playing stocks.
Hardwick’s rebuilt list looks set to enter their best years.
A half-back line built around All-Australian Alex Rance, with Bachar Houli and Yarran on his shoulders could well be the best in the competition.
Two-time Coleman medallist Jack Riewoldt spearheads the attack, ably supported by Brett Deledio and Ty Vickery.
In Cotchin, the Tigers have a captain who could win two Brownlows this year, once a ruling on Jobe Watson’s tainted 2012 medal is made.
He’s joined by all-action runner Dustin Martin, Brandon Ellis and breakout clearance star of 2015, Anthony Miles, in a formidable midfield unit.
The question mark might be in the ruck, with only the under-appreciated Shaun Hampson and the pinch-hitting Vickery as back-up to established No.1 Ivan Maric.
Football boss Dan Richardson said he was excited about their 2016 prospects.
“We feel as though we’ve got a solid spine developing, a core group,” he said.
“Young players like Ben Lennon, Corey Ellis and Connor Menadue, even Nick Vlastuin who’s fourth year, are all coming through and all look like they’re going to be very capable.”
Cotchin agrees the Tigers are well poised this season.
“You look at our core group and we’re all in our prime time,” he says.
“There’s a level of maturity amongst our group now.
“But the proof will be in the pudding. We’ve got to put our best footy on the park.”
The missing ingredient could be consistent home form.
The Tigers have become one of the best travelling teams in the competition, but too often missed out at home.
Over the last two seasons they’ve beaten every interstate side away, except for hoodoo club Gold Coast.
Richardson said an improved MCG record would help the Tigers roar.
“It’s our home ground and we’ve got a lot of games there,” he said.
“We’ve also shown we can play well interstate.
“If we consider ourselves to be contenders and a good team, which we do, then good teams play well everywhere.”
Coach: Damien Hardwick
Captain: Trent Cotchin
Last five years: 12-12-7-8-7
Premierships: 10 (1920-21, 1932, 1934, 1943, 1967, 1969, 1973-74, 1980)
Key five: Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt, Brett Deledio, Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin
One to watch: Chris Yarran. In an acknowledgment that one of their most pressing needs was line-breaking speed, the Tigers went hard for the disaffected former Blue and duly got their man. Likely to start across half-back but could also be used as a wildcard inside the forward 50.
Ins: Nathan Broad (Swn Districts, WAFL), Mabior Chol (Aspley, NEAFL), Kane Lambert (rookie elevation), Adam Marcon (Williamstown, VFL), Oleg Markov (North Adelaide, SANFL), Andrew Moore (Port Adelaide), Callum Moore (Calder U18), Daniel Rioli (North Ballarat U18), Jacob Townsend (GWS), Chris Yarran (Carlton).
Outs: Matt Arnot (delisted), Nathan Foley (retired), Nathan Gordon (delisted), Chris Knights (retired), Matt McDonough (delisted), Chris Newman (retired), Ricky Petterd (retired), Matt Thomas (delisted).
B: Dylan Grimes, David Astbury, Nick Vlastuin
HB: Bachar Houli, Alex Rance, Chris Yarran
C: Kamdyn McIntosh, Trent Cotchin, Brandon Ellis
HF: Shane Edwards, Jack Riewoldt, Shaun Grigg
F: Ben Lennon, Ty Vickery, Brett Deledio
R: Ivan Maric, Dustin Martin, Anthony Miles
I: Kane Lambert, Jacob Townsend, Connor Menadue, Troy Chaplin
Predicted finish: 6th
Betting (William Hill)
To win the flag: $14
To make the top eight: $1.60