KILCUNDA-Bass playing coach Steve O'Bryan expects a tough year ahead in search of back-to-back Alberton League flags.
O'Bryan, 25, led the Panthers to their first flag in 31 years last season, defeating Foster by 24 points in the premiership decider.
Despite limited off-season player losses and the retention of spearhead Luke James, O'Bryan said the hard work had just begun.
"This season is going to be incredibly difficult with a number of other teams recruiting well over the summer," O'Bryan said.
"This time of year you hear a lot of rumours about a lot of clubs, but Fish Creek and Dalyston are two sides that look like they've recruited really well."
O'Bryan, now in his third year as senior coach, said he was excited about the challenge of chasing back-to-back flags.
"As far as we're concerned last year is over and we've got a really exciting challenge ahead of us to remain up there with the best teams in the competition.
"We've lost a couple of players to retirement, and a couple of others to work issues, but we have been able to bring in a few guys to take their place."
In an ominous warning to his rivals, O'Bryan said James, who kicked 110 goals last season, looked fitter than ever.
"He's been training really well and is probably in better shape than I've ever seen him, so hopefully he can produce another great year for us."
The Alberton league kicks off this weekend with the Panthers taking on Foster on Saturday in a rematch of the grand final.