If the opening round of the 2019 ANZ Premiership indicated anything of what to expect this season, it's that the Southern Steel shouldn't get too comfortable with having the trophy in their cabinet.
The defending champions went down 66-64 to last year's wooden spooners, the Northern Stars, a result few fans would have picked at Hamilton's Claudelands Arena.
It was just the second time in the competition's history that the Stars were able to topple the front-runners, and a stark contrast to last year's dreadful run of results which put them at the bottom of the ladder.
Some of the Stars' newfound momentum on court was credit to the many fresh faces wearing the purple dress this season, one of which being former assistant coach and Silver Ferns legend Temepara Bailey.
The 43-year-old, who played close to a full 60-minute game, led the Stars' midcourt with flawless connections to fellow midcourter Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Silver Ferns goal shoot Maia Wilson.
Bailey was pleased her team held their nerve throughout the game and said she was excited to see the new-look side progress.
"It was interesting heading into that fourth quarter ... we knew that [the Steel] knew how to win, they've been champions [two] years in a row so we knew that they'd come back fighting," Bailey said.
"What I'm really pleased of is I think the Stars of old, they have crumbled in that position, but I'm just really pleased everyone out there on court fought and fought until the very end.
"We've got a lot of new players coming into this group, we've trained hard and I think that's what we grasped when we went into this game - that we've done all the hard work and it's just having that belief - believing that we can do it."
The Steel showed moments of promise, with co-captain Gina Crampton leading the attacking unit. But a lack of competition gametime to connect with new recruit and South African import shooter Lenize Potgieter caused early problems on the circle edge.
The Southland champions' hopes of claiming their third consecutive title was put under further doubt when the Central Pulse put out a jaw-dropping performance in the final match of the triple-header.
Refocussed after a disappointing loss at home in last year's grand final, the Pulse look a force to be reckoned with, steamrolling the Northern Mystics 62-39 to soar to the top of the competition.
The Pulse's ability to remain consistent will be tested as the season unfolds though, with their first shot at revenge over the Steel set for next month in Wellington.
Meanwhile, the Mainland Tactix claimed just their second win over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in the competition's history, in a strong start as they look to back up their most successful season to date.
The Tactix took down the home side 48-42, but both sides lacked notable flair and intensity.
While the Magic led with attempts at goal, low percentages from young shooting duo Monica Falkner (73 per cent) and Abigail Latu-Meafou (80 per cent) saw the home side struggle to find a rhythm.
In contrast, the Tactix's strong attacking unit held their nerve until the final moments of the game to deny the Magic a home stadium victory and start the season on a high.
Round one of the competition continues tomorrow night when the Magic host the Stars.