Illawarra has done all it can to bury the demons of a horrific last campaign, but the ghosts could re-emerge quickly should the Hawks tip-off the new season with back-to-back losses on their home floor.
It's a fate Jacob Jackomas' side will be desperate to avoid following Saturday's 15-point loss to the Kings, with South East Melbourne heading to Wollongong this Saturday fresh off a big win over Perth on Sunday.
Read more: Read more: Jackomas won't rush Johnson after Next Star's first outing ends in DNP
Dropping consecutive home matches to start the season would leave the Hawks still looking to cast off that lingering losing feeling, but skipper Tyler Harvey said his new-look side isn't feeling that heat.
"I don't think of it as pressure," Harvey said.
"I think we put enough work in, we do the right things daily, the results will come from that. I'm not saying we're going to play perfect, but I know it's going to happen for us.
"Yes, you want to win early. I think winning early in this league is so important because you have stretches during this season where things just don't go your way and you've got to have those wins banked, but putting pressure on yourself just makes you play more tense.
"We know what we have, we know what we can do, and it's going come together. I do think it's going to take a little bit of time for us to mesh, but we've been working hard.
"It's a long year. You can't get too high and too low in this thing. In the NBL things can change really quickly and I think we're going to be the team trending in the right direction very soon."
Having struggled to get off the bal the past two seasons, the early signs looked promising for Harvey on the personal front with his 5-10 from deep that clearly benefitted from Justin Robinson's presence as the primary ball-handler.
It's that type of class in the line-up that leaves Harvey confident there won't be any hangover from last season, though 30-year-old skipper wasn't looking forward to video review of his team's first outing.
"I think film is going to be a brutal one, but you get that over with the first game of the year," Harvey said.
"We've worked really hard and I feel like we came into this game thinking we deserve to win, but they're the defending champs, they have that chip on their shoulder as well and we really didn't execute at all.
"We had lax plays on defence, myself included, and on offence. I'm not too worried, I think we're going to figure it out. There's going to be a time where it's going to click and it'll be off to the races from there, but [Saturday] definitely wasn't the way we want to play it.
"Sydney plays a unique style of play, they switch everything, and they did a good job of playing their game. We kind of tried to play their game as well, which is not how we want to play.
"Credit to them, they did their thing, but I'm not too worried about us. I know we're going to find it. It's nowhere near where it was last year.
"We've got guys that are going to come in here and produce, so that's what the fans can expect moving forward. It's going to come."
Jackomas shares his skipper's confidence, but understands the focus will be sharpen the longer his side remains without a win to set the new ear in motion.
"You put a bit more [emphasis] on results right now because we did have such an unlucky year [last year], but that's done with," Jackomas said.
"You can feel it that 'oh, we need a win' because we didn't get one, but this is a new team. There is still a process in this thing right now and we didn't deliver on that.
"We're better than that so it's more disappointing that they were letting themselves down because I just think more highly of this group [than what they produced].
"We've played better, we've delivered a better brand than that. We've just got to be better."
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