A host of missing Matildas ensures the fifth season of the W-League will have a younger look when it kicks off with a rematch of champions Canberra United and grand finalists Brisbane Roar on Saturday night.
Seven members of last year's World Cup squad are set to miss the entire season though injury or, in the case of Matildas skipper Melissa Barbieri and the vastly-experienced Heather Garriock, due to pregnancy.
Among teams hardest hit by losses are heavyweights Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar.
Sydney lose Garriock and Leena Khamis while the Roar will have to make do without goalkeeper Casey Dumont and key defender Kim Carroll for the entire campaign.
Also absent from the Roar's ranks for the opening weeks, including Saturday's highly-anticipated opener against Canberra, will be national team stars Tameka Butt, Laura Alleway and Elise Kellond-Knight.
On the positive side for the Roar, this year coached by Belinda Wilson, 2011 player of the year Kellond-Knight is set to return in November following a 12-month absence with a knee injury.
"The grand final rematch is a case of which team fires on the day," said Kellond-Knight.
"Obviously we want to prove to Canberra that we are the best team so we want to take it to them."
Also absent this season are many of last season's high-profile international recruits, led by US international Megan Rapinoe.
However highly-decorated German defender Ariane Hingst has returned, this time in the green of Canberra, having made the switch from Newcastle Jets.
Matildas' coach Tom Sermanni said that, while disappointing, he could see some benefits in the younger look of the league as he prepares his team for the World Cup qualifiers in 18 months.
"This will be another critical season in terms of unearthing talent," said Sermanni.
"As we saw with the Matildas' recent tour of the USA, we have a significant number of young players, so for those players to play in tough week-to-week competition is vital to their ongoing development.
"A bit like our national team, the national league doesn't seem to be getting any older at the moment."
The W-League will also be freshened by the introduction of Western Sydney Wanderers, making for an eight-team competition, and two additional rounds.
The Wanderers open up with a trip to last season's strugglers Adelaide, before an opening match in their home city against Sydney FC the following weekend.
Extra spice has been added to the W-League's maiden derby with a number of players having made the switch from the Sky Blues to the new club, including Sarah Walsh and Teigen Allen.