Melbourne skipper Kate Moloney isn't expecting too much change at the top of the 2021 Super Netball ladder, but tips Queensland as the competition's surprise packet.
The new season kicks off on Saturday with a grand final rematch, with Moloney's champion Vixens hosting West Coast Fever.
Players and fans alike are banking on borders staying open after all but a handful of games were played in a condensed season in Queensland.
The Vixens handled the COVID-related relocation challenges best to finish the regular season as clear leaders and then edged Fever by two points in the grand final.
Moloney says she expects the top four teams - Vixens, Sunshine Coast Lightning, Fever and NSW Swifts - to again lead the way.
However Fever will be up against it after starting with a 12-point penalty for salary cap rorting in 2018 and 2019.
"It was pretty even last year and I think the Fever will be up there again and the Swifts are going to be a really tough team this year," Moloney told AAP.
She felt that the Firebirds, who finished outside the finals in fifth, were on the up, particularly with Diamonds Kim Ravaillion joining from the Magpies after having a baby and Gretel Bueta also back from maternity leave.
They also have a new coach with former Diamond and national assistant coach Megan Anderson taking over from long-time mentor Roselee Jencke.
"I think the Firebirds will improve a lot and they will be right up there at the end of the year as well," Moloney said.
Some have written off the Vixens' hopes of going back to back, as the Lightning did in 2018-19 with the injury loss of star midcourter Liz Watson and retirement of shooting duo Tegan Philip and Caitlin Thwaites.
But Moloney wasn't rattled.
"We set the target high every year and it's our goal to win again and we know it's going to be tough and the work we have to put in but we have lots of belief in our squad."
Swifts coach Briony Akle felt confident her team, who won the title in 2019, could challenge again with consistency in her line-up a key.
They finished fourth last year before losing to the Fever in the minor semi-final.
"Now that we're not the hunted we've just gone back to focusing on us and getting our systems right and the things we weren't happy with in 2020," Akle told AAP.
"Until you've done it, it's super hard to comprehend what it takes to win a premiership and those girls are really aware of what it takes.
"It helps that they've been together a long time so there's no excuses for us not to gel."
Akle's tip for the big improvers was Collingwood, who only managed one win last year which resulted in the axing of coach Rob Wright.
She also thought the Firebirds would rise up.
"We played against Collingwood in Hobart and they've definitely improved with their new coach Nic (Nicole) Richardson," she said.
"But the standard across all the teams has lifted and I think it will be a really tight competition."