BELIEF is the only thing stopping a young St Kilda side from surging into the finals this year, says defender Nathan Brown.

The Saints finished last season in 11th position, two spots lower than in 2016, but recorded confidence-boosting wins over premiers Richmond and fellow finalists Greater Western Sydney and West Coast.

Brown was part of a young Collingwood side that won the 2010 premiership against the Saints, and he hopes the penny is starting to drop for the AFL's fourth-youngest list.

"I think this year will be about believing we're good enough and we belong in the top eight and hopefully further and deeper in September," Brown told RSN radio on Friday.

"I think with any young group that has a lot of potential it's just about believing in themselves, knowing they can win and knowing they're a good side.

"I think that's half the battle – having the confidence and the belief not just of the individual, but as a team.

"I think that's the biggest challenge for us, and that's what we're excited about.

"The sky is the limit for us this year."

Another question mark over the Saints is how they cover the loss of retired club greats Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna.

While he concedes the duo will leave a massive void in star power and leadership, Brown believes their absence will have a positive effect on the club.

"There is a big hole, but I think what is great about last year is that Jarryn Geary took over as captain with some new faces in our leadership group," Brown said.

"I think Jarryn, Dylan Roberton, Seb Ross and guys like them have really stepped up this pre-season and taken ownership of the club.

"There's been a shift in (younger) guys coming out of themselves a bit more this pre-season, so it's fantastic to see with big shoes to fill.

"It's fantastic in terms of growth of the team."