As it begins afresh under co-captains Jack Grimes and Nathan Jones, Melbourne coach Paul Roos says the Demons must erase the ''scars'' of yesteryear before the team can truly transform.
The Demons won two matches last season and four in 2012, leading to the sacking of coach Mark Neeld in June. And since the start of the 2007 campaign, the club has won just 36 times, a sobering point club chief executive Peter Jackson made when appointing Roos in September.
Roos says one of his key objectives is to help restore the belief of the players.
''When you have struggled for a while, obviously there are a lot of scars when you get beaten - you only win two games and you lose 20,'' he said. ''And you have had a couple of bad years, there are some scars there, it's only human nature. That's our biggest challenge - to get some confidence and belief in each other.
''It has certainly evolved between the coaching staff and the playing group. I think there is some real confidence between those groups now but we haven't played against anyone at training.''
He then joked: ''We look good at training. We haven't played against anyone yet, other than the coaches, and they are pretty easy to get around.''
While that sparked a few laughs in the Demons' boardroom on Tuesday, it's clear the former Swans premiership coach will assume a serious demeanour if his players stray from the roles they are set. Roos has made his ''non-negotiables'' clear, with discipline a key aspect.
''The players would have an understanding of what my non-negotiables are. Certainly one of them is, if you want to get a game with us, you play your role - you understand what it is and then you play it,'' Roos said.
''It doesn't matter whether you are Nathan Jones or Jack Grimes. They need to be running out round one absolutely 100 per cent certain what their roles are, so if I can't get that across to them then I haven't done my job. But if I have done my job then you will get your games based on that.''
The Dees have worked hard on becoming match fit, as opposed to pure general fitness, with an emphasis on players being prepared to transition defensively when under pressure.
They must also improve in the midfield, where they were regularly crunched last season. In the past two years, they have averaged 23.5 fewer contested possessions than opponents, the largest differential Champion Data has recorded. They have also averaged 56.6 fewer uncontested possessions a match, also last in the league.
Jones said the players understood what Roos wanted and would work to ensure the game plan was implemented.
''I think in the past we have been through some pretty rough times but I think there is some real light at the end of the tunnel now,'' he said.
Grimes opted to remain in contention for the captaincy despite Jack Trengove, whom he shared the role with for two seasons, opting to stand down.
He said negotiating the difficulties of recent seasons would make him a better leader and he had enjoyed training under Roos.
''We can see the difference in training already, the difference in the intensity about how we go about our training and what the focuses are on training,'' he said.
''You will really see a change in the defensive side of our game. It was clear that we had to improve in a fair few areas from last year but a lot of the focus over the pre-season has been on nailing that defence and all the offence will come from there. That will be the main difference you will see this year.''
Roos said the players had picked the leadership group, which also includes Mitch Clark, James Frawley, Colin Garland and Trengove. But Roos said it had been the coaches and club board that had settled on the captains.
The Demons open their NAB Challenge against Richmond on February 14.