DESPITE entering the AFL Women's season as the reigning premiers, Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich says he's "in the dark" about what to expect from his team in 2022.
The Lions shocked the competition last season by going from fringe finalists the year before all the way to a flag, with their hungry and youthful team running opponents off their legs.
The only significant changes to their team came with the retirements of skipper Emma Zielke and calm-in-a-crisis veteran Lauren Arnell – a void of experience departing either end of the ground.
The 11 players aged 22 and under that won the premiership against Adelaide on that sunny Saturday afternoon in April are all still there.
And that's part of the reason Starcevich is unsure what to expect.
"We're a very young team, so I don't know whether they're going to keep that trajectory upwards or plateau out," he told womens.afl.
"You suspect at that age they're going to get better and better, but I couldn't tell you by how much until we start playing opposition.
"There's a lot of unknowns. I'm as much in the dark as anyone else."
Brisbane has young talent on every line, with Nat Grider and Indy Tahau in defence, Sophie Conway and Orla O'Dwyer on wings, and Dakota Davidson and Courtney Hodder in the forward line.
EVERY CLUB’S LIST Your squad for the 2022 season
Starcevich says athletically the squad has improved, which should concern opponents after the Lions used a physical, power-running brand of football to out-work teams last season.
"They're quicker, they can run harder for longer, they're still a very physical group."
Alongside Adelaide, Brisbane is unquestionably the most successful team since the competition's inception, finishing runners-up twice before winning its premiership.
Despite this, they're comfortable with the underdog tag and will again embrace it with an upcoming season that will include home games being moved 90 minutes north of the Gabba to Maroochydore.
"Maybe some people looking from the outside might have thought we had an ounce of luck throughout the finals series," Starcevich said.
"I suspect they'll still not really have a great handle on what our strengths are.
"Year on year our use of the footy and our athleticism is improving, but you could say that across the League as well.
"We'll find out soon enough."