There was a real sense of disappointment around the Parkes Spacemen when the 2019 season came to a close.
A club accustomed to success across all grades was forced to endure a grand final day at Apex Oval which featured no red, white and blue.
But the first grade side is primed to launch an assault on 2020 title after securing a number of major off-season signings.
Representative forwards Jack Medlyn and Lewis Dwyer are both heading back to Pioneer Oval after time away while former Narromine and Macquarie coach Wes Middleton is now a Spacemen after moving to Parkes for work.
Those three are locked in and bring a huge amount of experience and talent, but it's two other imminent signings which could take the Brent Wood-coached outfit to the next level in what is the club's 75th anniversary next year.
The return of Jake Dooley, a former Parkes junior and leading try-scorer in Group 9 for the past two seasons, is all but a done deal while Charles Tago, brother of boom Spacemen forward Bradon Tago, met club officials last weekend and had a "productive" meeting.
There could be further additions to the squad as Connor Farrer, one of the major reasons behind the Trundle Boomers' unbeaten run to the Woodbridge Cup title this year, was also at Parkes training this week while former Narromine forward Peter Wong has indicated to the Spacemen he's eager to join the club for next season.
Dooley's expected arrival shapes as one of the biggest of the off-season, with the fullback having taken his game to another level in the Riverina after captaining the Parkes under 18s to a Group 11 juniors title in 2011.
"I won't be in Group Nine next year," Dooley told Wagga's Daily Advertiser earlier in the week.
Tago would also be sure to add excitement, having played alongside the likes of Anthony Milford as a junior, while he's most recently played in the Brisbane competition.
While having players of that calibre and fierce competition for spots is one thing, having them all but secured months before the new season is one of the most pleasing things for Spacemen president Joe Spicer.
"It's a big relief," he said.
"Last year was my first as president and we gave it a crack and did a lot right but there was things we could improve so we put steps in place and it's settling to know the majority of things are sorted.
"It opens up opportunities like the West Wyalong Knockout, which we're likely to do, and we can hit trials with a full squad."
Dwyer and Medlyn will add real punch to a forward pack which was found wanting at times last season.
Most of the squad is in its prime now ... and it's really important we cash in on that and get results.Joe Spicer
Medlyn is a former Western Rams representative and has returned to the game while Dwyer has come back after a season in Group 10 with Cowra.
"That was probably an area we of depth we were struggling in," Spicer said of the forwards.
"Our middle third in the back-end of the season was probably where we lost some big games.
"Jack had played Western and Lewis was our best and fairest winner so they're both battle-hardened and know the job they have to do."
Middleton is one Spicer is excited by, with the former First Nations Goannas captain backed to thrive without the responsibility of leadership on his shoulders.
Middleton missed out on making finals when captain-coach of Narromine and then Macquarie in the past two seasons but was "jumping out of his skin" at training during the week.
"Absolute class," Spicer said of what the versatile Middleton brings.
"He's got lots of experience and he's also just another set of fresh eyes. He's got experience in coaching in Group 11 and he came recommended to us by boys who had played under him in the Group 11 side.
"He'll be an on-field leader and someone Brent can call on."
The other major positives for Spicer is the "100 percent retention" of last year's squad plus the majority of that squad being hometown juniors.
Outside of Tago and Benji John, players labelled "part of the furniture" at Parkes now, all the players spent their junior footy years with the club or at nearby Condobolin or Red Bend.
"Most of the squad is in its prime now," Spicer added.
"They're 25 or 26 and it's their best years at the moment and it's really important we cash in on that and get results."