West Coast and Fremantle are facing a host of tough calls at the selection table ahead of round one, with new recruits and emerging young talent pushing for spots at both clubs.
The Dockers launch the home-and-away season against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium next Friday night and are expected to field a line-up very similar to the one which lost to Hawthorn in last year's grand final.
The club added Scott Gumbleton and Colin Sylvia over the off-season in a bid to increase its potency in attack, but the duo are not expected to face the Magpies.
Gumbleton has started his rehabilitation for a serious hamstring injury sustained against the Western Bulldogs last Wednesday night and Sylvia is still working on building his fitness to the standard demanded by coach Ross Lyon.
Instead it is the Dockers' third-year players who are most likely to cause headaches for the match committee.
Midfielder Tom Sheridan was an emergency in last year's grand final and developed further over the summer.
He showed his potential in the second half of the 28-point win over the Bulldogs.
Forward Hayden Crozier is another expected to push for selection after starring in the Dockers' intraclub game last month.
With ruckman Zac Clarke still no certainty to recover in time from a knee injury, young talls Jack Hannath and Matt Taberner are likely to be fighting for his spot as a forward-ruck option.
West Coast have an extra week than Fremantle to finalise their preferred line-up, kicking off their season against the Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium on March 23, the second week of the split opening round.
Nic Naitanui had his first hit-out of the year in last night's practice game against Fremantle and will hope to prove his fitness in the club's final pre-season match next week.
Recruits Xavier Ellis and Elliot Yeo have done everything asked of them over the pre-season and appear set to be rewarded with selection against the Bulldogs, while Mark Hutchings, the Simpson medallist in West Perth's WAFL grand final win last season, has also made a strong case for inclusion during the club's two NAB Challenge wins.
Dom Sheed, pick No.11 in last year's national draft, has impressed new coach Adam Simpson and will be considered for a round-one debut.
Ruckmen Scott Lycett and Callum Sinclair could also be in the mix, depending on the availability of Naitanui.
Sinclair starred in the Eagles' win over Sydney last Thursday night in the absence of Naitanui and Dean Cox.
With a list that is extremely healthy, except for Beau Waters (shoulder), the Eagles are tipped to rebound strongly under Simpson after a poor 2013.
But Simpson says the Bulldogs' brand of football will test how far the Eagles have progressed over the pre-season.
"Obviously they hang their hat on their contested football," Simpson said. "They've got some exceptional inside, hard-working players."