Throughout the BFNL pre-season there was plenty of talk that Strathfieldsaye was fitter, stronger and better in 2019.
One game is too small a sample size to give a definitive answer, but on the two-and-half hours of footy the Storm produced on Saturday afternoon they certainly haven't gone backwards.
The Storm outplayed Eaglehawk in their round one clash in a similar manner to which the Hawks defeated Strathfieldsaye in last year's grand final - precise and sharp ball movement, multiple options forward of centre, strong pressure and a dominant half-back line.
In the end the 14.14 (98) to 8.12 (60) scoreline flattered the Hawks.
The margin did reach nine goals before the Hawks kicked five goals in the final quarter.
"It's always nice to get a win round one, especially against a quality side,'' Storm coach Troy Coates said.
"For the majority of last year we felt our structure and game plan stood up well and this year we want to make sure we get do what we did last year, but do it better.
"I think this game showed that we have improved in those areas."
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The most bold change the Storm made over the summer was moving Bryce Curnow from centre half-forward to centre half-back.
Curnow kicked 56 goals last year and gave opposition defenders plenty of headaches.
The move to defence paid dividends on Saturday.
Firstly, he looked just as comfortable across half-back having played in defence in the VFL for North Ballarat and he combined well with the Geary brothers, Shannon Murphy and Jack Neylon.
Secondly, it freed up space in the forward line for Hugh Robertson, Lachlan Sharp and a mix of small forwards and resting midfielders.
Robertson showed why he was rated so highly in the GVFNL with a class performance at centre half-forward.
He moved better than last year, marked the ball strongly and kicked a couple of goals from long range.
Sharp did what he does best. He led hard at the footy, outstmarted the Eaglehawk defence at times, created a couple of chances out of nothing and finished the day with a bag of six goals.
Coates bobbed up with four goals of his own, while midfielders Sam Heavyside and Josh Formosa also hit the scoreboard.
"We felt our forward line was a bit crowded having Bryce, Sharpy and Hugh there,'' Coates said.
"Bryce has played quite a bit of footy down back and knows how to play there well. He's smart and he's like a general down there
"I thought our half-back line was the most crucial line in the win. They set us up.
"The stats showed the two sides were pretty even in stoppages and clearances, but all our drive was coming from such a strong half-back line.
"Hugh's game was super against a quality opponent (Clayton Holmes)."
A potentially serious knee injury to Jake Moorhead was the only negative for the Storm.
Moorhead hobbled off the ground in a lot of pain in the second quarter and will have scans this week to determine the damage.
The injury news wasn't much better for the Borough.
After suffering a shoulder injury last year, Lachie Atherton injured his "good" shoulder on Saturday and is awating scans to see how long he'll be on the sidelines for.
Riley Saunders limped off the ground with a knee complaint, but the Borough were confident it wasn't a serious injury.
Brenton Conforti, who didn't play in round one, will have surgery this week on his knee and looks set to miss most of the first half of the season.
To rub salt into Eaglehawk's wounds on Saturday, midfielder Jesse Collins was reported for striking Strathfieldsaye's Jack Neylon in the final quarter.
The Borough will decide on Monday if they challenge the charge.
On a positive note, the Hawks were pleased with the way young defender Oscar Madden played on Sharp.
Richard Tibbett did a solid job in the ruck in his first game back at the club, while Dylan Hanley and Tim Hill were solid in defence.
Recruit Jarryd Pertzel showed some flashes of class in the forward line and kicked four goals.
The Hawks will unfurl their premiership flag on Godd Friday afternoon against South Bendigo. The Storm face another test against Sandhurst at the QEO on Good Friday evening.
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