It would be wrong to suggest Port Adelaide caught its rivals napping last season, for that would mean rival coaches and opposition analysts had not done enough preparation. Anyone with inside knowledge of a football department knows that's not the case in this professional era.
However, it's fair to say some were surprised by the manner in which the Power executed its free-moving game-plan under new coach Ken Hinkley.
As another testing pre-season comes to a close, Power captain Travis Boak knows that same element of surprise will not be there.
No looking back: Travis Boak says Port must go to another level. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
''The first thing we spoke about when we came back from the off-season was what do we want to get out of it [training],'' Boak told Fairfax Media. ''Other teams are going to start to come after us a little bit more now. The simple reality is we need to go to another level and not get ahead of ourselves.''
Where the Power in 2013 was rebuilding from 14th on the ladder, this season it starts off on a strong base, which included toppling Collingwood in an elimination final and only ended in a semi-final loss to Geelong. Clearly, the basic tenets of Port's game plan are in place.
Last year it had the third lowest kick-to-handball ratio in the competition, and played on from marks in the defensive half more than any side. When it had the ball, the Power showed intent by kicking forward 90 per cent of the time to be ranked second.
Adopting Hinkley's mantra to take the game on, the Power averaged 13.8 more uncontested possessions then its opposition. Compared to 2012, it scored an extra 15.5 points per game on average, while conceding 90 points per game - 7.5 points fewer than the tumultuous year beforehand.
Boak said the Power had a primary aim last season.
''We were coming from a fair way back last year. We set out to earn respect. I still think we are doing that,'' he said.
''Everyone might think it (2013) was a fluke. We still want to earn respect from the rest of the competition. We just have to turn up again. That has been Ken's motto this pre-season - just turn up again and take it to another level.''
Boak said Brisbane recruit Jared Polec, after a lacklustre start to the pre-season when he finished mid-pack in the three-kilometre time-trial, had impressed with his stoppage work, while Ben Newton, yet to play a senior match after being drafted in 2010, had shown greater professionalism. He has also liked what he has seen from former Tiger Matt White and the speedy Robbie Gray, the latter already having had a strong 2013 campaign.
Boak said the Power would learn from the season-ending loss to the Cats, having squandered a 23-point buffer at half-time.
''What Geelong was able to do in that third quarter was really dictate [to] us. Their great players really stood up. I think in the end their contested footy and their skill level took it to another level.
''That's something we have looked at this pre-season and something that we have needed to work on because that's where we probably lost the game in the end. From a leadership point of view, seeing their leaders really stand up in crunch time, which our leaders were able to do last year during the season, that's something we took out of the game.''
Boak enjoyed a stellar 2013, averaging 25 disposals and was ranked elite by Champion Data in clearances, inside 50s, score assists and score involvements. In his first year as captain, the midfielder also developed as a leader working with mentor, Roger Rasheed, the tennis coach and Power supporter.
''A lot of [his] themes were to do with training and to lead by example … send that message of what you have to do to be an elite athlete,'' Boak said.