WFL - Ararat Football Club joint-coaches David Hosking and Andrew Louder have stated this pre-season campaign is about setting standards for the senior playing group to adhere to.
Since commencing training in November the coaching duo said they have already seen positive signs that the message is getting through, with a number of players committed to improving their game and attitude ahead of the 2013 Wimmera Football League season.
"This pre-season is about setting standards and everyone understanding what they are," Hosking said.
"The one thing you will get from Andrew and I all year is direct and honest feedback. You won't get abuse but if you are not doing something right you will be told - Not in an aggressive way though, but it is now time to make a stand."
Louder said training had been progressing well with a mix of running and core strength work being led by athletics coach Marcus Cooper.
"We did start early and we had such good numbers leading up to Christmas that I thought they might drop off on our last week of training (before the break) but it turned out the last night was probably our best," he said.
"We are mindful that we have got a lot of young bodies and we are trying not to load them up with a really massive pre-season straight away. We are aiming for a gradual build up and I think it is safe to say that we will start to put the foot down a bit more now."
Versatile midfielder Jack Ganley has returned to the club after spending a year playing in the Bellarine Football League with the Torquay Tigers.
Hosking said he is excited at the prospect of having the 19-year-old back at the club, who will join recruit Will Bell and 2011 club best and fairest winner Ryan Bates (coming back from a 12 month knee injury) as some of the new faces in the senior line-up for round one.
"It is great to have Ganga back and it is great to have a 6ft tall, mature onballer that can take a contested mark but is also good at ground level," he said.
"As good as Jake (Williamson) and Batchy (Alan Batchelor) are, you need to have that taller midfielder who can take that big contested grab.
"Our spine straight up - (Bernie) Peoples, (Stephen) Phillips, Ganley, (Nathan) Gannon, (Zach) Louder and (Liam) Cavanagh in the ruck - it's not too shabby.
"Cavanagh is effectively another midfielder and we will hurt some sides with him in the ruck this year. We are really wrapped with what he is doing, he is having a real crack. Full credit to the kid, he has definitely impressed."
The pre-season will now begin to increase in intensity as the Rats prepare for their first match, which is likely to be against arch rival Stawell according to a draft of the 2013 WFL draw.
A training day will be held on Sunday, February 10 which will see the playing group run to Green Hill Lake for a number of fitness related activities.
The Rats will then compete in a 'lightning premiership' competition hosted by the Sebastopol Football Club from February 21.
"There might be 15 to 20 clubs put in for it and we will be put into a draw - A and B I am assuming - and you are guaranteed two 'games' (two 20 minute halves), if you lose both games you are gone, if you win both you would progress and the rest will be worked out on points," Louder said.
"Our aim isn't to go down and win it but to try out things like the game plan. It will be valuable game time experience."
A training camp will be held in Warrnambool on March 23 and 24, followed by a practice match against Warrnambool FC at Alexandra Oval on April 6.
Hosking said coming up against the strong Warrnambool lineup will be a character building experience for the Ararat players.
"We will find out, not that we probably don't already know, but we will get a fair dinkum football lesson on how a professional country footy side runs and goes about their business," he said.
"We know that going in, and if we wanted to protect them from that we could have said no, but it is not about dinting their confidence either because we will properly prepare them mentally.
"The main concern is that if we don't go out there and get something out of it then we have wasted everyone's time. I have confidence in the group that we can get plenty out of it."