Following their hugely impressive County Championship Division One title in 2010, there is no escaping the fact that last season was a huge disappointment for Nottinghamshire.
Director of cricket, Mick Newell is expecting a reaction this time around, and believes Notts will be genuine contenders in the title race.
However, the former opening batsman admits there will be a number of clubs in the same position, and knows it will be a tough ask for his side to get back to where they were two seasons ago.
“I am expecting it to be a very open competition this year,” Newell admitted.
“Cricket in the County Championship is very different from football in the Premier League. There you can only really expect one of three or four teams to win the title, but here you have nine who will really fancy their chances at the start.
“A lot of teams will be genuine contenders.”
Generally accepted as one of the better county sides in England at the moment, the players at Nottinghamshire County Cricket club will be aware of the importance of getting off to a strong start.
Newell said: “We will be hoping to hit the ground running. In recent years, that always seems to have been the case.
“We seem to do well in April and May, but not as good in the latter months of the season, so this year we are hoping to see a bit more consistency in that respect.”
Notts begin their campaign with a home tie with Worcestershire, who themselves endured a tricky season last time out.
Newell does not expect them to be among the title contenders at the end of the season, but knows that like all games in Division One, it will be a tough one for them to get a victory from.
He said: “Worcestershire will be no pushovers – no one in the County Championship really is – but we have to go into the game with a certain degree of confidence.
“They were fighting at the bottom end of the table last season and only just managed to avoid relegation to Division Two.
“It would probably be fair to say they expect to face a similar sort of season this time around, but they will be as keen to get the win as we are. Like us, they will think they can win the title going into day one.
“It will be a tough game, there is no doubt about it.”
Newell says that in preparing for a new season, the club have to be ready to do without some of the bigger name players who are centrally contracted with England.
“Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad are unlikely to play more than one or two first class games for us,” Newell said. “So we just plan for life without them. It’s not too much of a problem for us.
“The main difficulty is with players like Samit Patel and Alex Hales who are sometimes in the England squad, sometimes not.
“Both have been away with the national team for the series against Pakistan, but we have to assume they will be available for selection here, come the start of the season.
“When they get called up, of course it’s always a proud moment, but it certainly makes our life harder as we know we have to make do without one or two of our first team players.”
With most players set to report back for full training on March 5, the final preparations for the season will begin to fall into place.
Some of the squad have been playing abroad during the winter months, in order to get important match practice, while others are set to return from a trip to South Africa where they have been doing some of their early pre-season work.
Later this month, the squad travels to Barbados where they will get the chance to practice in outdoor nets as well as playing friendly games against some of the local teams.
Newell admits that while this does sound glamorous, it is very hard work, and essential for getting the players ready for the new season.
He said: “It will be a fantastic opportunity to get out on the field and play some proper cricket as the season approaches.
“It will be hard work and the only way the players can really get their match practice in. It simply isn't possible to play four-day cricket in March in this country.
“Things like that are essential as it gets the players outdoors and playing cricket. There is only a certain amount they are able to do in the indoor nets.”
Newell says that for the players who have remained in England over the winter months, it has all been about working on their fitness in the gym, while also taking advantage of the training facilities at Loughborough University.
In terms of his own preparation, he admits that things are fairly quiet during the winter, before really getting going in February and March.
Notts will have to make do without bowler Darren Pattinson who will miss the start of the season with a stress fracture in his back. Aside from that, there are no other injury concerns as yet, with Newell warning that it is when the season gets going that they start to set in.
One player who will be available, however, is new signing James Taylor, who was signed from Leicestershire during the off season, on a three-year deal, alongside Michael Lumb and Harry Gurney.
Newell says the club is expecting big things of Taylor, a batsman who has recently captained the England Lions.
He said: “We are hoping for big scores from him.
“James is one of the most highly talented young players and we were keen to get him.
“He has a real desire for batting. He loves batting, he likes playing innings and we need people here who are prepared to graft and battle, which is a bit different to some of our stroke-makers.”