After seven years without a finals appearance, the pressure on St Kilda to improve heading into this AFL season is high but expectations outside the club are generally low.
And that was the widely held view before their pre-season preparation suffered a series of setbacks.
The Saints will be without Dylan Roberton for the year after another heart scare and a cloud remains over Paddy McCartin after he suffered an eighth concussion.
Jack Steven is back with the club after taking time off to deal with a mental health issue but he won't be rushed, prized recruit Dan Hannebery was struck down by a hamstring injury and Jake Carlisle will miss most of the season after having back surgery.
The only team with more question marks than St Kilda on the eve of the season is rebuilding Gold Coast and the Saints will play them at Marvel Stadium in round one without suspended key back Nathan Brown.
"There's not too many people saying nice things about us," captain Jarryn Geary told AAP.
"That's fine. I'd rather it be that way and we'll surprise people.
"I'd rather we knock a few teams off that people don't think we can.
"I'm still really confident we're going to be able to that.
"We feel like we can win plenty of games of footy this year. We've got to be more consistent and we've got to improve on last year but there's no ceiling on what we think we can do.
"The outside noise is always going to be there but it's irrelevant."
New recruiting rules have at least allowed the Saints to bring in some cover, with ex-Collingwood defender Jonathon Marsh and former Carlton back man Sam Rowe thrown late lifelines.
The club isn't putting a timeline on the returns of McCartin or Steven although the latter is considered more likely to play the Suns.
"He certainly wants to play - he loves footy, loves the footy club," Geary said of Steven.
"But he'll have to tick a few boxes.
"He just needs to continue to improve, continue to enjoy being around the football club ... his mental health and physical health is what's important for us.
"If he's right to go, he'll be right to go."
Australian Associated Press