Skipper Mark Kingsley insists promotion is a realistic target for Chester Gladiators as the rugby league club kick off the 2017 campaign.
The weather frustrated the Gladiators at the weekend, forcing the postponement of their North West Men's League opener against Oldham St Annes.
But the Division Three outfit are in upbeat mood ahead of a trip to face another Oldham side, Fitton Hill, on Saturday.
Experienced half-back Kingsley, who has been reappointed captain after helping his team to a fourth place finish last season, is feeling optimistic about the Gladiators' chances.
He said: "I think the club's aim this season is definitely promotion.
"I feel after consolidating in this division last season, we are now more equipped for the what the division has to throw at us. It was a learning curve for a lot of the lads last season and this season the target is promotion.
"Even though I'm confident we will do well, there are plenty of tough teams so we will have to see what unfolds."
Head coach Adam Turner took the decision to begin pre-season earlier and a new partnership with the Number One Health Strength Performance gym in Queensferry demonstrates his efforts to create a more professional environment around the club.
Turner's squad has been bolstered with several new additions including Jimmy Newman, David Lewis, Jack Wright, Taylor Batson, Mat Roberts and Ross Jones, while the core of last season's side has been retained.
"The pre-season has gone well in terms of fitness," explained Kingsley.
"The guys have done a lot of hard work in the gym since before Christmas and on the field over the past couple of months. The only downside is that we've not been able to have as many run outs as we would for match sharpness but overall I feel we are shaping up well."
The Gladiators will celebrate their 10th birthday in 2018 and Kingsley believes the club has never been in better shape with an established home at The Cheshire County Sports Club and a thriving junior section with five teams and plans for a sixth.
Kingsley said: "The club is progressing a lot and we now have numerous teams right from the tots through to the open age side, and excellent links with Widnes Vikings and Warrington Wolves, who are now coaching in Chester schools.
"It's going from strength to strength and I see a very bright future for the club. The game of rugby league only looks to be getting stronger in what is mainly seen as a rugby union stronghold, but in time I can see that changing as the club continues to progress."