Since becoming the sole Central West club in the Football NSW football pyramid, Western NSW Mariners have struggled for results, the finish of 10th in 2014 and 2015 the club's best finish to date.
Now 2019 is set to be Mariners' biggest season yet, with the bottom five positions of NSW NPL 3 now relegation places, as Football NSW looks to restructure for 2020.
With that in mind, Mariners coach Mark Rooke knows that his side will have a massive job to do in 2019, if the club wants to avoid the dreaded drop for next year into what will be NSW NPL 4.
They kick-off their new season on Saturday when they travel to Sydney to play last year's grand finalist SD Raiders at the Ernie Smith Reserve.
"Speaking to a few people already, SD have got it on their radar that they want to get promoted," Rooke said.
"It'll be a tough game in all grades, not just first grade."
Rooke said results in the first half of the season is crucial to making sure his side doesn't get stuck in a relegation dog fight.
"To be honest, it's going to be the first half of the season that'll tell our tale," he said.
"The first five or six game, it's a confidence thing with the guys and I've seen that in pre-season. Things haven't gone well in a game and they've gone missing in parts of it.
"A perfect example was our last pre-season game against Western Condors. We led 1-0 within five minutes, playing some good football. The next 40 minutes were awful and we had fallen apart, down 4-1. Then we came out in the second and score three more games to draw 4-4.
"We spoken several times about how moments in games like that which we can't let that affect us.
"It's challenging for me: it's not just the football side, but the mental side, to get the boys to believe they can do it. We've got some good footballers that have played NPL 1 and NPL 2. We've just got to make sure we can put it together."
Rooke believes NPL 3 will be a "hotly" contested season, with the likes of Parramatta FC, who only played in NPL 1 in 2017, Bankstown City Lions, SD Raiders and Hawkesbury City looking to push for promotion.
Of the 14 teams, six teams will contest the play-offs, with the team who wins the minor premiership being promoted to NPL 2.
Mariners kick-off at 7pm.
WESTERN NSW MARINERS' FIRST SIX GAMES:
- March 9 away to SD Raiders at Ernie Smith Reserve (Moorebank)
- March 16 home to Dulwich Hill at Marjorie Jackson Field (Lithgow)
- March 23 home to Gladesville Ryde Magic at TBA
- March 30 home to Bankstown United at TBA
- March 6 home to Parramatta FC at Glen Willow (Mudgee)
- March 13 away to Stanmore Hawks at Arlington Oval (Dulwich Hill)