The Swans have lost a staggering 983 games worth of experience in an off-season exodus of retirements and transfers, placing the onus of responsibility on a new generation of contributors whose challenge will be to fill a deep leadership void.
With Adam Goodes, Rhyce Shaw and Mike Pyke calling time on their respective careers, and Lewis Jetta and Craig Bird having left the club, the test for the Swans as they prepare for their first practice match - against Port Adelaide at Blacktown on February 20 - will be to start to identify who is ready to step up and join the likes of Kieren Jack, Jarrad McVeigh and Josh Kennedy in setting the standard on and off the field.
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"I don't see it as an issue. I see it as an opportunity for us younger blokes," said Harry Cunningham, 22, who is in his fifth year at Sydney.
"It's a chance for the guys aged 20 to 23 who have played maybe 50 games, people like Sam Reid who's played about 80 games - it's a chance for us to take our leadership and our games to the next level, which will help the club with continued success."
The Swans returned on Friday from a stint training and bonding at Coffs Harbour but Cunningham said the leadership question was not discussed.
"It's been good to change up the environment a bit and test ourselves. It was good to get away from Sydney a bit and be with each other for a couple of days. We love coming here," he said.
"We didn't really speak about [the leadership question], but there is certainly a lot of experience gone. I think the key thing is that with that comes opportunities and challenges for young blokes like myself to take on the next leadership role. It's about pushing the guys behind us and also in front of us.
"I think that's really important for us, guys like Dean Towers, Brandon Jack, myself, even the likes of Dan Hannebery and Tommy Mitchell to an extent, to keep pushing everyone to be better. We've got to take on that role, that opportunity to push the group.
"I've been at the club for four to five years now, so it's there's a chance now for me to express myself and take a leadership role to the next level. I feel like I'm building on that but I've got to start consistently having an impact on games and that will help my leadership throughout the year."
Experience is not just about taking authority on the field. Cunningham explained that former campaigners such as Goodes and Shaw were enormously valuable away from the game, too.
"Our leaders are really good at knowing when our key moments are during a game and what we need to do at those times. Goodesy and Shawry were very good at that," he said.
"But they're also ripping blokes off the field, which made it a lot easier for us younger blokes who might have moved away from home to settle in and learn the game plan. That's why they'll be sorely missed. But because they're such good blokes we should still be able to catch up with them."
Adam Goodes - 372 games
Rhyce Shaw - 237
Mike Pyke - 110
Lewis Jetta - 127
Craig Bird - 137