Galway's season gets underway in the country's traditional home of football on Sunday against their most traditional of rivals.
Sunday's meeting with Mayo in the FBD League in Tuam Stadium will be Kevin Walsh's side's first outing since last year's All Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin in Croke Park. And there is no room for error in the FBD League this year. If Galway slip up against Mayo, they will not have a game again until they start the league campaign at home to Cavan a fortnight later.
Walsh is not a fan of the changes to the structure of the FBD League this year. Speaking to Galway supporters' group Tribesmen GAA, he said: "The FBD has always played a part in the talent development process that we as a management team have used to find new players in Galway. Some 24 players have been introduced to the panel via the FBD with a lot of them going on to make championship debuts soon after."
However, he is very happy where Galway are starting this season compared to last year.
"I always refer to the ‘end of year accounts’ when I am assessing the year gone by. You have to look at where we were at the beginning of the year and where we are now. Did we achieve what we set out to achieve, and has the team progressed in a way that it is in a better place now that it was at the end of 2017?”
The answer is an emphatic yes.
"We are always looking to improve ourselves as players and as coaches both on and off the field. That’s why we are all looking forward to the upcoming season. We have things to work on, but we are constantly pushing ourselves to get better.”
Mayo make the short trip to Tuam fresh from a quarter-final win over Leitrim last Sunday that ended up in a novel penalty shoot-out after the north Connacht men fought back from eight points down at one stage against James Horan's team. Walsh and his team have had the upper hand over Mayo in recent years, beating them in the championship three years on the bounce, along with a number of wins in the league and FBD League against their northern neighbours.
But Mayo have a new manager this year with James Horan returning to the role after four years out of the position. He led Mayo to four Connacht successive titles during his first stint in the hot seat. Last weekend he experimented with his team, but still named a side that included plenty of experience, with players such as Lee Keegan, Brendan Harrision, Seamus O'Shea, Ger Cafferkey, Donal Vauaghan and Jason Doherty all starting the game in Carrick-on-Shannon.
This weekend's game will throw in on Sunday at 1.30pm and the sides will meet each other again in the National Football League in Castlebar on Saturday, March 2. When that one comes around, both sides will have a much better understanding of how they are shaping up for the championship.