Could this be the year Fusion Heat's stranglehold on Dubbo netball's biggest prize come to an end?
After much uncertainty and a lengthy delay because of COVID-19 the action finally returns to the Nita McGrath Courts on Saturday and there Fusion Heat will start its bid for a fourth successive A Grade title.
While there have been plenty of changes in the top grade in recent years the dominance of the Tash Robinson-led Heat side has been the one constant.
There's new teams stepping up to the plate again this season and some bolstered rivals, plus one major absence for Heat, is setting the stage for a wide open title race.
Heat will be without towering sharp-shooter Michelle Regan this season and she will leave a notable whole while Fusion Fire is one team looking to take advantage of that.
"The A Grade reserve winners, Dubbo Rhinos, have moved up and Fire has strengthened with Abbie Merritt returning," Dubbo Netball Association president Karen Weekes said.
"Heat has lost Michelle Regan so they might lose a little bit but the rest is much the same.
"Plus Inspire and Narromine have not had too many changes so they'll be strong performers and I expect a strong competition again."
Merritt starred in the top grade as a teenager and was one of the standout attackers in the competition but after some time away, some of that due to injury, she will add a real threat to the Fire side which finished the regular season in second spot last year.
Narromine made a run from fourth to feature in the grand final last year and will be back as part of an eight-team competition alongside the Inspire Panthers, St Comebacks, St Diamonds, Macquarie Hornets, Rhinos, Fire, and Heat.
And while Weekes and the committee is delighted to have a season up and running, and have an added senior grade this year, she admits there are still some nerves around as COVID-19 cases continue to pop up around the state.
"There's still a degree of uncertainty," she said.
"The members' safety is our first and foremost priority but to have some sort of competition and to have all the clubs agree on it is the best we could have hoped for."
Spectators will not be allowed at matches under the current health guidelines.
Only 500 people are allowed at the courts at one time and given the DNA's huge numbers and multiple grades it was made difficult.
The committee did give clubs the options of working on a system which would allow spectators but a simple model which is easiest to run without fans was agreed on.
People can watch if they stay outside the perimeter of the courts, and there will be signs and barriers in place on game day.
"The clubs are being innovative though," Weekes said.
"We're working on 28 people being allowed per match. And that's 10 players [each side], a coach, manager, and scorer.
"Some clubs are rotating parents as scorers so they can be there while others are already working on drop-off points so they can all meet and go together to the games to make it safe."
Inspire Panthers and St Comebacks meet in the first match of the A Grade season on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Fusion Fire does battle with St Diamonds, Narromine meets Macquarie, and Heat kicks off its campaign against the newly-promoted Rhinos.
This year's shortened season will run for the nine weeks.
The top four after seven rounds will move through to the semis.