A 2020 season of new beginnings for the Blues may start with a focus on the players who are missing rather than present – most obviously first-five Beauden Barrett, who is easily the most experienced back in the side but one who won't play until mid-season.
The star All Blacks signing from the Hurricanes will enjoy a sabbatical before arriving at Blues headquarters at Auckland's Alexandra Park and is likely to slot straight into the No10 jersey when he is up and running. In the meantime, Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta and Harry Plummer will vie for the role. North Harbour 20-year-old Jack Heighton is a long-term project.
The absence of several others is also likely to be keenly felt. Tough lock Scott Scrafton has signed with the Hurricanes and the Blues may lack a bit of depth in his area early in the season, with All Black Patrick Tuipulotu a possibility to start a little later and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti recovering from a shoulder injury.
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Other than Josh Goodhue, the Blues have the inexperienced Jacob Pierce and new signings James Tucker and Baden Wardlaw as second-row options.
Melani Nanai's departure to English club Worcester, and Michael Collins' return to Dunedin to play for the Highlanders means the Blues are light on specialist fullbacks, too.
Adding to the pressure on the outside backs is the naming of Rieko Ioane as a midfield option and Caleb Clarke's absence to train with the New Zealand sevens side ahead of the Olympics. Matt Duffie is a possibility to play fullback but is more of a wing specialist.
The other outside back options are Jordan Hyland, a Northlander who has seven Super Rugby caps, Bay of Plenty's Emoni Narawa, only 20, and Harbour duo Jared Page, 26, and Mark Telea, 21. The latter three have yet to play at this level.
Take Barrett and his 125 Super Rugby caps out of the backline, and, Rieko Ioane apart, it looks short on experience, if not quality. Harlequins midfielder Joe Marchant is highly regarded but will need time to find his feet after arriving from England.
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On the plus side, the Blues front row looks strong, with James Parsons, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Sione Mafileo and Ofa Tuungafasi returning, and there is a good group of loose forwards including Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Dalton Papalii, Tom Robinson, and Tony Lamborn, the latter a former Hurricane who played for USA at the recent Rugby World Cup.
As Leon MacDonald plans for his second year as head coach, and new chief executive Andrew Hore his first, the Blues appear to be putting their faith in hard work and, later in the season, the star power of Barrett, the All Blacks fullback who will qualify as the Blues' best No10 since the departure of Carlos Spencer way back in 2005.
There will also be an expectation that MacDonald improves on the 13th place he and his team managed this year.
"It's important that last year's experiences count," MacDonald said.
"We must build on that. And we have made no bones about the fact that we are going to be a hard-working team," said MacDonald. "Our coaching group and other staff have looked closely for players to fit this mould and that has been reflected in our selections.
"We also want to play a fast, open brand of rugby. To that end we already have some outstanding players and we have added some exciting players to this. We want players who are capable of seeing space and playing what is in front of them.
"We also believe we have a number of players with the ability to play in different positions and this versatility will no doubt prove advantageous.
"The vast majority of players are from our system or are returning back to the region, but where we could not find the right fit, then we have not hesitated to acquiring the type of player we are looking for."
Blues squad: Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Matt Duffie, Kurt Eklund, TJ Faiane, Blake Gibson, Josh Goodhue, Jack Heighton, Alex Hodgman, Jordan Hyland, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Tony Lamborn, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Joe Marchant, Emoni Narawa, Ray Niuia, Sam Nock, Jared Page, Dalton Papalii, James Parsons, Stephen Perofeta, Jacob Pierce, Harry Plummer, Marcel Renata, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Tom Robinson, Jonathan Ruru, Hoskins Sotutu, Mark Telea, Tanielu Tele'a, James Tucker, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi, Baden Wardlaw.