Tommy Brewer believes new-look Hampton & Richmond have a much better chance of going up this season – as they now have the pace to enter the Ryman Premier promotion race.
The right-back reckons the squad joint managers Paul Barry and Darren Powell have assembled is the quickest he has known.
It's helped by younger blood. In comes impressive 22-year-old winger Jerome Federico from Northwood, while Wycombe's highly-rated Jesse Kewley-Graham, 20, has earned rave pre-season reviews.
And while some older heads have departed, the freshness to the Beavers team has given Brewer serious hope that they can mount a challenge.
But Hampton have been handed the trickiest of starts. They travel to overwhelming title favourites Margate on Saturday for the season's curtain-raiser – a club said to boasting a playing budget of a side pushing for the Football League.
They then have the luxury of two home games in a row, at home to reprieved Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday before Ryman North play-off winners Witham Town visit the Beveree on Saturday week.
And the defender says the pressure is off against mega-rich Margate this weekend.
Brewer said: “We go there with everyone expecting them to get off to a great start.
"Steve [McPherson, Hampton chairman] has described it as ideal for us – that threw me at first, but thinking about it more I agree totally, it's a free shot so to speak. The pressure is on them, not us.
“We've got a good side this year and the pace in the team is unbelievable. That's the noticeable change, we're quicker and sharper and can cause teams a lot more problems than before. We can't wait to get started.”
Having secured the league's top scorer Charlie Moone for another year, goals shouldn't be too hard to come by. Former AFC Wimbledon forward Richard Butler has signed after a break from senior football, while young forward Ben Harris is tipped to shine this term.
Brewer added: “If we can be a little tighter defensively and win the ball in the middle of the park then there's no reason why we can't be up there having a real go at it.
“Most people have already pegged Margate as the title favourites, but there are other quality teams in the division. I would like to think people will be talking about us soon.
“We've had as good pre-season. We've won our last three friendly games so we're going in confident.”
Joint-boss Powell added: “We've got a few important training sessions this week and we've got to give ourselves the very best chance of going to Margate and getting something.
“Everyone knows they have spent big but football isn't played out to account sheets.
"We can mix it with the top teams, so this is a chance to make a name for ourselves.”