Pre-season training has only been going for six weeks, but Golden Square coach Bernie Haberman already likes what he sees.
After leading the Dogs to the preliminary final in his first season in charge, Haberman is confident his side is better-placed at this time of the year compared to 12 months earlier.
"We're still plugging away at a couple more (recruits), but I think overall we're in better shape compared to this time last year,'' he said.
"Tom Toma and Simpson (Clayton Anderson) are hard to replace, but we feel as though we've got a lot more depth and we feel as though we'll get improvement from that group of young players that played senior footy this year."
The return of key forward Jayden Burke from VFL club Williamstown and the signing of former Sunraysia star Brad Eaton headlines Square's recruiting, while several "depth players" are returning to the club from HDFNL side Huntly.
Square's success in 2017 was built around an oustanding team defence.
Haberman said that structure won't change in 2018, but the Dogs' offensive tactisc will.
"Our focus is different this pre-season. Last year we worked on how we wanted to set up behind the ball,'' Haberman said.
"We've focused more this time about how we want to move the ball.
"It was always my plan to conecntrate on one thing the first year then something else the second year so that we could build layers."
Haberman said assistant coach Eaton has already made an impact on the Square playing group.
"Brad's been fantastic... he's a real bonus already,'' Haberman said of Eaton.
"If he can keep his body healthy he's going to really valuable on the field, but he's already been great during pre-season training.
"He's a charismatic and fun guy and he's fit in well. He has a great knowledge of the game."
Key forward Travis Baird is back in training after a serious hamstring injury sidelined him for the BFNL finals.
A fit Baird alongside athletic duo Burke and Hamish Morcom and big man Dylan Johnstone gives the Bulldogs plenty of firepower inside forward 50.