Strict new club and team protocols has GJ Gardner Wanganui Athletic flying high in the Lotto Federation League - unbeaten and having not conceded a goal in five games so far.
New season coach Tex von Kwiatkowski said he agreed to coach the team only if strict protocols were put in place.
And all were designed to change club and team culture and create a winning philosophy.
"It appears to have worked so far," von Kwiatkowski said.
"We have a squad of 18 and very strict rules around attending training and match days – they must be on death's door or maybe a parent's funeral to attend before I will even consider excusing a player from training or game day," he said.
"It's all about the team and the club, and fitness is key. If you are fit then the mind is free to make informed decisions during a game.
"And when we make substitutions the player coming on is certainly no less of a player than the player they are replacing. We are at the top of the table when traditionally this team has been used to being around mid-table, so players also need to learn how to deal with that pressure."
Palmerston North Marist sit tied with Athletic in 15 points with the Manawatu side having played one more game.
Athletic are benefiting from the return of Josh Smith from Marist, Tesco Grunwald has returned from playing for last year's winners Havelock North and Shaan Stewart has returned from playing college football in America.
Athletic travel this Saturday to play defending champions Havelock North in Hawke's Bay.
"We will not be overwhelmed, we have no fear of them," von Kwiatkowski said.
Meanwhile, Versatile Wanganui City, also unbeaten in the Horizons Premiership, host North End Reserves at Wembley Park at 2.45pm on Saturday.
Hockey action starts
Meanwhile, Whanganui's top hockey players swing into action this weekend.
Five or six of Whanganui's women's A team from last season have joined forces with the Massey A women from Palmerston North to continue playing in the Manawatu league. Massey Premier play Massey Premier Reserves tomorrow.
The Whanganui premier men play College Premier in the Premier Men's A grade Manawatu competition tomorrow.
Whanganui primary and intermediate begin their season on Wednesday/Thursday next week, while secondary schools hockey also begins in earnest next week.
Premier netball starts on July 27, while the lower grades begin next week.