Two-time defending champions Central Pulse are claiming underdog status before the ANZ Netball Premiership's opening round this weekend.
The Wellington-based side are heading into the season with a new coach in Gail Parata, a new captain and a relatively inexperienced playing roster.
Midcourter Claire Kersten has taken over the captaincy in the absence of Katrina Rore, who's expecting her first child in the coming weeks.
Kersten says while some pressure is good, overcoming expectation has been a focus during pre-season.
"We've acknowledged it quite a lot in our playing group," Kersten says. "Quite a few people have mentioned the fact they feel pressure around it, so we've tried to address it and move on from it."
As well as pressure, the Pulse have welcomed new personnel into their 2021 squad.
"With Gail coming in and a few other different players, there's been quite a lot of change, but sometimes that's not always a bad thing," says Kersten. "It forces everyone to reset and go back a few steps to go again.
"It's a good challenge for us."
Meanwhile, last year's runners-up - Canterbury-based Mainland Tactix - have emerged as pre-season favourites, after retaining most of their players from last year, with the addition of Silver Ferns defender Karin Burger to partner Jane Watson in the circle.
The competition begins this weekend, when the Pulse take on Northern Stars at Palmerston North.