Ricky Stuart walked through the doors of the Canberra Raiders' Braddon base thinking his players had "forgotten absolutely everything about the game".
Because while the Green Machine's past two seasons finished at grand final and preliminary final checkpoints, day one of a new pre-season means you have to start all over again.
"It's something I've learnt over many years," Stuart said.
"We've got quite a short preparation going into next season because we went so far into the competition, but that's what you want.
"You want players to have a short preparation for the next season because it means you've gone into the playoffs quite a way."
Canberra's first to fourth-year players reported for day one of training on Monday with a focus on stripping everything back to work on fundamentals and conditioning.
The senior group will soon follow suit, as will new recruit Albert Hopoate, who Stuart hopes can get a change of luck after the prodigiously talented youngster left Manly for Canberra.
State of Origin trio Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii and Dunamis Lui are on leave until after Christmas having been a part of the NSW and Queensland post-season bubbles.
But there is already a veteran among Canberra's ranks at training with Ryan James taking a chance to mentor the club's emerging stars in his first season as a Raider.
The 144-game veteran shifted to Canberra on a two-year deal after playing with the Gold Coast Titans in 2009.
"He put his hand and wanted to train with the 21s. I've heard some stories about Ryan grabbing young kids and showing them a certain way to lift, or a certain way to train," Stuart said.
"It's wonderful to have that type of NRL player's experience. Ryan has been in the game for a long time, I know how excited the younger blokes were to have Ryan around.
"He's a good person, Ryan, and he'll be a great fit for the club."
James joins a club seemingly destined to be in the mix come the business end of the year with the Raiders twice falling just shy of a drought-breaking premiership in the past two seasons.
They may well have to chase the club's fourth title under biosecurity measures introduced this season to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The New Zealand Warriors will shift to Tamworth in January, before relocating to Terrigal for the opening four rounds, but there is hope restrictions will ease.
"This year would have been very important in regards to the mental break as much as the physical break ... Especially for the senior players, the guys in the bubble, it was a long, hard year," Stuart said.
"The mental break will have been so important. If they come back and they have got that bit of energy about them, you know they've had a good break.
"I know the senior boys have been doing a lot of training with their off-season programs, and that's really important when you have shorter pre-seasons, you have to have been disciplined and done your work at home, away from the group.
"A lot of the guys get together and work, and do training together. They're professionals and don't let themselves go too far."