The talent is there. The expectations are enormous. There's no escaping it: now is the time for Melbourne to deliver.
As Simon Goodwin enters his second season in charge, the Demons have never had a better opportunity to snap their long AFL finals drought.
The recruitment of young star Jake Lever, prised away from Adelaide in exchange for two first-round draft picks, will help.
A natural leader, the 22-year-old intercept marking specialist will instantly improve the Dees' backline.
But it's two other factors - the return to fitness of Max Gawn and continued development of rising stars Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca - that should propel the Dees into September action for the first time since 2006.
Aged 20, Oliver can count himself among the league's elite onballers after a breakout year.
Ranked in the league's top 10 for disposals and contested possessions, the Demons' best and fairest winner had the third-most clearances behind Brownlow Medallists Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield.
Petracca is yet to achieve such consistency but could be anything - an explosive talent with the flair and versatility to star in the midfield or up forward.
And the Dees will be better served by a fully-fit Gawn, who is eyeing a return to his 2016 All-Australian form after missing half of last season with a hamstring injury.
Gawn's recent contract extension takes him through to the end of 2021 and will effectively ensure he finishes his career with the Demons.
Retaining their younger stars looms as a challenge for the Dees in the not-too-distant future.
Oliver and West Australian-born spearhead Jesse Hogan are both due out of contract at the end of next season.
Petracca, who recently signed a two-year extension, and co-captain Jack Viney are set to follow in 2020.
All have indicated they see their future at Melbourne, and it's hard to see Viney - whose name is synonymous with the Demons - playing elsewhere.
But a 12th straight year without finals action could test loyalties as players continue to press for greater freedom of movement.
The no-nonsense Goodwin believes his players have the attitude to match their talent.
"We've worked incredibly hard on the training track and that's really setting us up for our season ahead," Goodwin said.
"The boys have come with a really strong work ethic. They've created some great habits.
"We're in a position as a club to have great belief heading into the season but we still understand it's a marathon, it's a long way and we haven't even got to the start line yet."
Whether the Dees can avoid injuries to key players may dictate whether they are spared a repeat of last year's heartbreaking ninth-placed finish.
Viney will miss the opening-round clash with Geelong as he continues to recover from a foot injury that required surgery last year.
Fellow co-captain Nathan Jones also missed games last year and has grappled with back spasms during the off-season.
With mercurial forward Jack Watts having been traded to Port Adelaide, the Dees will continue to lean heavily on experienced hands Jones, Michael Hibberd, Jordan Lewis and Jake Melksham.
Exciting draftee Bayley Fritsch is certain to be in contention for a round one debut after an impressive pre-season campaign.
Coach: Simon Goodwin
Captains: Nathan Jones and Jack Viney
Last five years: 17-17-13-11-9
Premierships: 12 (1900, 1926, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964).
Key five: Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney, Max Gawn, Jesse Hogan, Christian Petracca.
One to watch: Bayley Fritsch. The mature-aged draftee slotted three goals during Melbourne's trial match victory over North Melbourne and another against St Kilda. The 21-year-old's ability in the air and at ground level should add versatility to the Dees' forward line.
Ins: Jake Lever (Adelaide), Harley Balic (Fremantle), Charlie Spargo (Murray Bushrangers U18), Bayley Fritsch (Casey Demons VFL), Harrison Petty (Norwood U18), Oskar Baker (Aspley NEAFL).
Outs: Jack Watts (Port Adelaide), Jack Trengove (Port Adelaide), Heritier Lumumba (retired), Colin Garland (retired), Jake Spencer (delisted), Mitch White (delisted), Liam Hulett (delisted), Ben Kennedy (delisted).
B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Michael Hibberd
HB: Jayden Hunt, Jake Lever, Jordan Lewis
C: Christian Salem, Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones
HF: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Jake Melksham
F: Bayley Fritsch, Tom McDonald, Jeff Garlett
R: Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Dom Tyson
Int: Angus Brayshaw, Alex Neal-Bullen, James Harmes, Sam Frost
Predicted finish: 7th
Betting (William Hill)
To win the flag: $11
To make the top eight: $1.55