All three Whanganui travelling football teams have had slow starts to the season in their respective grades, without dominating as they did last year.
G J Gardner Homes Whanganui Athletic went through unbeaten until the final hurdle in the Lotto Central Federation League last season, while Versatile Wanganui City owned the Yorb Horizons Premiership after dropping points in only two matches and winning the division.
Athletic started their 2021 campaign strongly, with pre-season wins over Taupo AFC and Capital Premier sides North Wellington FC and Island Bay United, pleasing coach Tex von Kwiatkowski.
Athletic followed that up with a 3-1 win over Levin AFC and a 3-0 loss to Gisborne Thistle in the competition proper - the razzle-dazzle of last season's unbeaten run missing.
They have the home advantage over HNW Federation Team on the Wembley Park No 1 ground kicking off at 2.45pm on Saturday.
While the results had been promising, von Kwiatkowski said they were on thin ice over the coming weeks with numerous departures and injuries.
Shaan Stuart and Will King will be out for the first third of the season at a minimum, with Stuart in America and King recovering from an ankle injury.
Although those key players were missing, von Kwiatkowski said others had stepped up and they could not worry about what had happened.
"We don't have to fear anything. We just have to focus on our commitment and consistency," von Kwiatkowski said.
He was not thinking about title aspirations just yet, rather focusing on games week to week and building into the season as players returned from various injuries.
Meanwhile, new coach Mark Hetherington is satisfied with the form of his young Wanganui City side which has key players missing from last year's line up.
"This is a very young team with a few older, experienced players who can help mould and guide the younger ones throughout the season," Hetherington said.
City have beaten Massey University Reserves 4-2 and lost 5-2 to Feilding United in the Horizons Premiership and recorded a 4-2 victory over Havelock North in Federation Cup play.
"We'll just take these young guys through their gears and focus on building a strong foundation. We are coping with injuries to key players Flynn Hogan and Cameron Hussey, but that will allow some of the younger guys to step up and gain valuable experience,"
City take on Japac Homes Hokowhitu at home on Wembley Park No 1 at 12.30pm on Saturday.
G J Gardner Homes Athletic Reserves are also playing in the Horizons Premiership, drawing 1-all with Massey Reserves and suffering a 3-0 loss to LongChill Takaro Jokers.
Athletic had a solid season last year dropping only a handful of games to finish runners-up to City in the Horizons Premiership.
They play Breakers RSM 1sts in an away fixture on Skoglund No 4 in Palmerston North on Saturday.