The longest pre-season in history, and not a single trial game.
That's the Maitland Mustangs' rather unusual preparation for Saturday's big clash with rivals, the Newcastle Hunters, as the 2021 basketball season gets under way.
But don't take it as an excuse. Maitland coach Luke Boyle is very happy where his young squad is at, topped off by the fact he finally managed to get Lonnie Funderburke's name on paper midweek as their overseas player.
"We're young, we're fast and fit," Boyle said ahead of their Kibble-Mallon Cup showdown. "We won't be looking to play half court basketball, we'll be looking to run sides off their feet."
And Funderburke? The former Tennessee forward played for Newcastle last season and Boyle is convinced he'll be the perfect fit.
"We're not after an import who has to do all the scoring, we want a team player who will fit in with what we're trying to do," Boyle said. "Lonnie will do that. He's very experienced, has played againsty elite players and just knows the game.
"It's obvious already that he's starting to learn the games of those around him."
The fact the Mustangs had to blood youngsters last season after their overseas players returned home early due to COVID is expected to pay dividends - not that it brought much comfort at the time.
"We were froced to bring the young ones through and they got game time," Boyle said.
"Well, I reckon we have three players who I expect will take the next step.
"Connor Edwards is one. He's a guard, very quick who was starting to come into his own as the season went on.
"Kaia Isaac is only 18 and has been at the Centre of Excellence, also a guard and just a very talented player.
"And Jay Cole, he's just 19 and athletic. He'll play in the three or four spot. He was a bit timid when he first came in which is understandable, but he has thickened up through the body in the off season and he's ready to make an impact."
On top of that there are three new faces who are expected to make major contributions.
Bill Parsons - son of former Newcastle Knights prop Matt, is a young power forward with strength and footwork, Scott McCann is a six-six small forward who can score inside and out, and Malok Mokoi is maybe maybe six-five with a nice shot and strong defender.
Newcastle won't be easy. In Miles Cherry they have a player of NBL quality and they're well coached.
On the women's scene, the Mustangs will go in as underdogs against Newcastle.
"We played them in a trial a few weeks back and, to be honest, they gave it to us," Mustangs coach Kirsty Baltitude said.
"They would be favourites for sure. We'll go in with a couple of players carry minor injuries. The big blow is the loss of small forward Hannah Fox who has a calf tear that will keep her out for six to eight weeks."
The one positive for the Mustangs is that Kiwi import Tanaka Gapare didn't play in that match and that will make a huge difference to Maitland.
"She's in the New Zealand Tall Ferns squad and is athletic and big, with US college experience," Bultitude said.
"She'll be a handful for any side, especially on the scoring end."
The women's match starts at 5pm.