A low pressure system is sweeping across the AFL landscape, caused by a contentious new rule in conjunction with tighter interchange restrictions and longer games.
Steve Hocking's attempt at opening kicking lanes, speeding up play and increasing scoring is already having a marked effect.
Whether it's positive or negative remains a topic for debate.
According to a triple-premiership coach, it's unlike anything the competition has seen before.
"What I will say is it's a different game," Damien Hardwick said after Richmond's six-point win over Collingwood in Friday night's pre-season fixture.
"We took 120 uncontested marks; that's normally a two-game total for us.
"It's a different look and we'll do a little bit of work on that and see whether it's something we have to work our way through."
So far, from what Hardwick noted is a small sample size, pre-season matches have featured some high inside-50 counts and extremely low numbers on teams' pressure indicators.
Many experts have pointed at the new 'stand' rule, which prohibits players on the mark from moving in any direction, as the major reason for less-inhibited ball movement by teams in possession.
But Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley believes the reduced cap on interchange rotations - down from 90 to 75 - is an even greater factor, with its effects on player fatigue amplified by a return to standard-length quarters this season.
"Richmond would see themselves as one of the better pressure sides in the competition and our numbers are generally pretty good in that area, but they were as low as anything that you would've seen (on Friday night)," Buckley said.
"It was a very open game ... but it's going to take a good five or six weeks before we know exactly where the game is going to settle.
"We're all talking about the man on the mark, but 75 rotations with an extra 20 minutes of footy is going to be the biggest test, given that all of us that are playing haven't played a normal-length game for nearly 18 months."
Buckley said fans can expect a season of "real flux and change" in the way the game is played as clubs, football departments and players adjust to a range of circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
"2020 was a real difficult year and we got through and we've had a shorter preparation (for this season)," Buckley said.
"The soft cap for footy programmes has been cut by 40 per cent, so the ratios of staff to players is very different to what it was.
"The games are now back to full length and we're going with less rotations, so there's a lot of change in the game.
"There's a few rule changes that are designed to speed it up and to make it more open and offensive, so there's a lot of different factors.
"The coaching and playing groups that get it right are going to get a kick-start early."
Australian Associated Press