For Maitland Mustangs coach Luke Boyle, the two pre-seasons of 2020 - the ones before and after COVID - couldn't be more different.
On March 13 the Mercury did a story on Maitland's new recruits, Tay Wynyard and Dhiu Noi which rounded off a playing roster which was probably the strongest the club had ever put out.
US guard Tyler Fry had already been signed and sealed, as was Sharif Watson, a proven top class performer in the league.
While Boyle was trying to keep his feet on the ground, his excitement was obvious - it was a gun squad.
But post COVID, and things are very different.
"We obviously let Tyler go back to the States when COVID was taking hold and he won't be back this season," Boyle said.
"Tay went back to New Zealand and is playing in their own national league - doing pretty well too - so he won't be returning either.
"And Dhiu went back to Cairns and will stay up there.
"All in all, it's not what we were expecting."
So for a side that was overjoyed at its recruiting and giving itself a genuine title chance, expectations have had to be reset. Especially so now that a number of the Sydney clubs have been bolstered by NBL acquisitions.
"There are reports of Sydney Kings players like Brad Newley, Daniel Kickert and Craig Moller signing for the local Sydney clubs which would make things pretty interesting."
In what would appear a fairly pragmatic move, the Mustangs have decided rather than rush out and try to sign marquee replacements, they will stick with their roster.
"We'll go for a youth policy and give some of our talented youngsters a crack," Boyle said.
"We'll keep the money and look to bolster again next season, but with the added benefit of having our kids get some great experience under their belt from this season."
The Magpies have been in contact with their imports and, on the back of releasing them to return home, say they are on good terms for next season if that's the way it pans out.
Boyle won't talk his team down but it's fair to say title aspirations for this season are off the table.
"We still have some very good players available, don't lose sight of that," he said.
"But for players like Kaia Isaac who's a really talented shooter, he's only 17 but we'll give him a chance. And Riley Markovic's a big young man I'm keen to see tested at this level.
"Connor Edwards - Jack's young brother - will get a chance to shine.
"It's a big step up but they'll also have better players around them. It will make them much better players which can only help us next season."
The competition starts on July 18, with one round of matches - nine games - and an abbreviated finals series with just four teams progressing.