In the second of his series on New Zealand's Super Rugby teams ahead of the 2020 season, Liam Napier looks at the Chiefs — and their new-found belief.
Not since the halcyon days of the initial Dave Rennie era has the same enthusiasm enveloped the Chiefs.
Enthusiasm doesn't always equate to success, of course. Sometimes it is merely misplaced hot air.
This year, though, after two largely unconvincing seasons, there appears genuine reason for optimism to bound from the middle of the North Island.
Damian McKenzie's return from injury promises to provide one of the more compelling subplots to Super Rugby — his dynamic, weaving bursts from the backfield capable of shredding the best defences.
Couple McKenzie's attributes and renewed hunger after missing the World Cup with Aaron Cruden's homecoming, and a fully fit Sam Cane, and you have three pillars in the master plan.
Throw in Brad Weber's ever-increasing authority, Anton Lienert-Brown's claims to be New Zealand's form midfielder and some seriously impressive front-row depth, and the Chiefs' credentials begin to become clear.
Cruden's return from France, where he endured two difficult campaigns at Montpellier, cannot be underestimated. That it allows McKenzie to play fullback where he can best unleash his natural game is but one major upside.
France wasn't the most successful experience of Cruden's career but it did open new avenues to control games. Tactically, that can only help the Chiefs manipulate opposition in multiple ways.
Experienced, level-headed playmakers don't grow on trees. The added advantage the Chiefs will also enjoy is Cruden will not be required to sit out specific games under the All Blacks two-match rest protocols, though they will be keen to continue Tiaan Falcon's grooming process.
Liam Napier: Freak incident a reminder of rugby's life-changing dangers
Liam Napier: Analysing the Hurricanes' prospects in 2020
Gold, silver and bronze: What it's like to cover three World Cups
Assessing the Chiefs' spine, it's impossible not to shift forward in your seat.
Weber's spark will consistently challenge inside defenders and he should give Cruden the required time and space while his speedy support lines are one of his greatest assets.
If the Weber-Cruden-McKenzie axis doesn't get you going, you're at the wrong party.
The Chiefs hierarchy didn't handle the changing of the coaching guard particularly well. Then again, there's no easy way to push your head coach out the door with one season remaining on his contract.
With Colin Cooper swiftly moved on, Warren Gatland makes his transition home after 12 years in Wales and his presence is said to be already felt.
Now boasting a six-pronged management team, the Chiefs will hope for a return on that considerable wage bill.
Super Rugby's largely freewheeling attacking style, indeed the pace and creativity the Chiefs will likely seek to adopt, is poles apart from Gatland's Welsh side that won the last Six Nations with the joint-lowest number of tries.
Adjustments will, therefore, be required to his vision but Gatland's vast experience and knowledge of the high-stakes arena should bring rewards before he bails for the British and Irish Lions tour next year.
The Chiefs were competitive enough under Cooper without every really inspiring. They had moments, sure, but not ever enough consistency to regularly threaten the competition's top echelon.
Gatland's Chiefs must live without Brodie Retallick's unrivalled influence as he lines his pockets in Japan for the next two seasons, leaving lock a weak spot.
On the whole, though, they have retained the bulk of their squad — Taleni Seu the other notable loss — and should have most bases covered.
Their front row stocks featuring All Blacks Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Nathan Harris and Reuben O'Neill, who made the squad last year without taking the field, offers depth others pine for.
The loose forwards seem well stocked, too, with Cane supported by Luke Jacobson, the All Blacks blindside flanker/No 8 who went home from the World Cup with delayed concussion before the tournament began, powerful Taranaki boot man Pita Gus Sowakula and Lachlan Boshier.
Lienert-Brown has solid midfield partners in the form of Alex Nankivell, Tumua Manu, Orbyn Leger and the versatile Sean Wainui.
And as with all Kiwi teams, the outside backs are typically stacked with pace and firepower.
Competition between Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson, Sam McNicol, Etene Nanai-Seturo and Kini Naholo, the younger brother of former All Blacks wing Waisake, will be fierce.
We don't have to wait long to ascertain whether these Chiefs can emulate the feats of Cruden's first two years under Rennie, when they delivered the franchise their twin titles.
Their opening match at Eden Park, where the Blues traditionally start with a hiss, will lay down an immediate marker. The following week the Chiefs welcome the Crusaders to Hamilton.
No chance of sleepwalking into the season, then.
Chiefs squad changes
Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Dylan Nei, Lisati Milo-Harria, Aaron Cruden, Kaleb Trask, Kini Naholo, Quinn Tupaea, Sam McNicol.
Out: Kane Hames, Sefo Kautai, Tevita Mafileo, Liam Polwart, Fin Hoeata, Daymon Leasuasu, Brodie Retallick, Mitch Jacobson, Jesse Parete, Taleni Seu, Jonathan Taumateine, Jack Debreczeni, Stephen Donald, Ataata Moeakiola, Marty McKenzie.