New Zealand Breakers believe they have the hunger and the talent to become just the second team in NBL history to win three successive titles when the new season gets underway on Friday.
The Breakers start their three-peat campaign at home to Perth, the team they vanquished in last year's finals series and the last Australian winner of the title back in 2010.
With Gold Coast, who finished third last year, withdrawing due to financial issues, the league is down to eight clubs, its joint lowest ever number.
However, that's only expected to make the competition even tighter, with talent spread across the clubs that remain.
"I think the league on a whole is far far stronger," Townsville coach Paul Woolpert told AAP.
"The teams that weren't so strong last year became better."
For the Breakers, emerging centre Alex Pledger is expected to take most of the minutes played last year by All Star second-teamer Gary Wilkinson, who has been replaced by Will Hudson.
"I think what we'll see is a pretty similar style to last year," Breakers' star forward Tom Abercrombie told AAP.
"It's obviously been successful for us the last couple of years, so there's no point in changing it at the moment."
Abercrombie, who missed the Breakers pre-season games with an ankle injury but is expected to play against Perth, had no doubts the Breakers' appetite for winning titles had not been sated by their back-to-back triumphs.
"Nothing changes for us, every year the same goal is to go out and win that championship," Abercrombie said.
"Perth will be good again, they are always a very consistent team and play at a high level."
Perth, whose first five games are away, have retained all of their key players apart from centre Luke Nevill.
Townsville, who finished fourth last season, cut imports Jason Forte and Curtis Withers, but now appeal as a genuine title contender after recruiting 2011 league MVP Gary Ervin plus veteran forward Larry Abney.
"I think that we're a better team now than we were ten days ago," Woolpert said.
Almost everyone is tipping 2011-12 wooden spoon holder Adelaide to be the big improver.
The 36ers signed centre Luke Schenscher from Townsville and snared three Blaze players - including Boomers' guard Adam Gibson.
"With the additions we've put in we're definitely going to finish a lot better than the bottom of the table," Gibson told AAP.
Cairns, who made the 2011 finals series and and missed out on fourth spot on percentage last season, have bolstered their offence by signing ex-Melbourne forward Cameron Tragardh.
Sydney and Melbourne have each revamped their respective roster, but questions remain about whether either will be good enough to return to the finals.
Former Adelaide stalwart Adam Ballinger headlines a list of useful recruits for new Melbourne coach Chris Anstey.
Sydney lost their two most potent offensive threats Julian Khazzouh and Anatoly Bose and recruited experienced replacements in James Harvey and Ian Crosswhite, but will need significant contributions from their imports.
Wollongong will be sparked by former Blaze guard Adris DeLeon.