NOT even the five new full-time coaches are exempt from the pressure cooker of the box on game day.
But where do they rank compared to their contemporaries going into 2020?
AFL.com.au reporter Mitch Cleary puts the microscope on your club's boss and ranks them from 18-1 on a pressure gauge.
>> Who's feeling the heat? Have your say in the poll at the bottom of the page
18. Damien Hardwick – Richmond
Pass mark: Finals
Started at the Tigers: 2010. Contract: 2021
Record: 130 wins, 99 losses. Finals: 7 wins and 4 losses (two premierships from two Grand Finals).
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We say: Would have to see the Tigers fall off a cliff for there to be questions asked. With at least 20 of last year's premiership 22 available to pick from in round one, plus full pre-seasons for Tom Lynch and Marlion Pickett, the only concern is about building a dynasty. Focus will quickly switch to extending the contract that expires next season.
In a snapshot: They're building a statue regardless.
17. John Worsfold – Essendon
Pass mark: Game style improves aesthetically
Started at the Bombers: 2016. Contract: 2020.
Record: 39 wins, 51 losses. Finals: 0 wins and two losses (no Grand Finals).
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We say: What pressure? Now that the keys have been handed over to Ben Rutten, Worsfold can watch on and focus on developing the next wave of Bombers coaches. All of the chat out of Essendon has been about the gameplan resting with Rutten and new assistant Blake Caracella.
In a snapshot: Feet up and watch the 'Truck' do the driving.
16. Justin Longmuir – Fremantle
Pass mark: Avoid bottoming out
Started at the Dockers: Debut season. Contract: 2022
We say: No Joel Hamling, Alex Pearce, David Mundy or Jesse Hogan to start the season, plus the first-year coach is regenerating a team without Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon. The membership base, which dropped off last year, just needs to be sold a vision that the club is on the rise in the post-Ross Lyon era. Want to see improvement from Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra, Brennan Cox and Griffin Logue.
In a snapshot: Give the fans a glimmer of hope.
15. Matthew Nicks – Adelaide
Pass mark: Avoid bottoming out
Started at the Crows: Debut season. Contract: 2022
We say: While the pressure of expectation has been removed at West Lakes for 2020, Nicks sits above Longmuir because he has a bit more on his plate. Firstly, to convince free agent Brad Crouch that the club is in the right direction, get games into the kids and also to prove to elder statesmen Rory Sloane (30), Tom Lynch (29), Bryce Gibbs (30) and Taylor Walker (30) they can contend before their time is up.
In a snapshot: Let's see the kids.
14. John Longmire – Sydney
Pass mark: Avoid the bottom four
Started at the Swans: 2011. Contract: 2023
Record: 139 wins, 77 losses. Finals: 10 wins and 10 losses (one premiership from three Grand Finals).
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We say: Handed a contract extension last year, Longmire has four years to see the Swans' rebuild through. Now that Heath Grundy, Kieren Jack, Nick Smith and Jarrad McVeigh have retired, it's time to see generation next. Finals in nine of his 10 years at the helm helps as well.
In a snapshot: Even a wooden spoon isn't doom and gloom.
13. Rhyce Shaw – North Melbourne
Pass mark: Avoid bottom four
Started at the Roos: 2019 (interim). Contract: 2022.
Record: 7 wins, 5 losses. Finals: Nil.
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We say: Placed ahead of Longmuir and Nicks because of the decisions the club made around the list last year and the fact he's had 12 more weeks in the seat. Had the chance to trade Shaun Higgins and let Todd Goldstein walk via free agency but dug the heels in. That must equate to a competitive team in 2020.
In a snapshot: Need to see the second- and third-tier players improve.
12. Alastair Clarkson – Hawthorn
Pass mark: Finals
Started at the Hawks: 2005. Contract: 2022
Record: 216 wins, 133 losses. Finals: 16 wins and 10 losses (four premierships from five Grand Finals).
We say: Desperately wants another piece of silverware inside the next three years of his contract. While his record speaks for itself, Clarkson slowly moves up the rankings this year given the age demographic of the list. Jon Patton and Sam Frost arrive, Tom Scully will be properly fit and Tom Mitchell returns from a broken leg.
In a snapshot: Can't have back-to-back finals misses.
11. Adam Simpson – West Coast
Pass mark: Preliminary final
Started at the Eagles: 2014. Contract: 2022
Record: 92 wins, 49 losses. Finals: 7 wins and 4 losses (one premiership from two Grand Finals).
We say: Yes, he won the club its fourth premiership only two seasons ago. But the list is primed for another tilt and the hurt of missing last year's top four and subsequent semi-final loss remains. Behind Richmond, the Eagles have the best bookends in the competition and it's time to make the most of the jam-packed midfield.
In a snapshot: Go backwards and the fans will be restless.
10. Brett Ratten – St Kilda
Pass mark: Still a finals chance with a fortnight to go
Started at the Saints: 2019 (interim). Contract: 2022.
Record: 3 wins, 3 losses. Finals: Nil.
We say: Ranked ahead of three of the first-year coaches because of the Saints' decisions in October last year. Paddy Ryder, Bradley Hill, Dan Butler, Zak Jones and Dougal Howard are in the door and they're not planning a September holiday. They've recruited for the now and the hungry supporter group want instant results.
In a snapshot: Improvement or a world of pain for the future.
9. David Teague – Carlton
Pass mark: Still a finals chance with a month to go
Started at the Blues: 2019 (interim). Contract: 2022.
Record: 6 wins, 5 losses. Finals: Nil.
We say: Can't be afforded the same luxury of the other first-time coaches in having three years to build a team that will contend for finals. Given the status of the list, his time is now. The youngsters have shown promising signs, but can they take the next step? And first-choice players Matthew Kreuzer (30), Kade Simpson, (35), Marc Murphy (32) and Ed Curnow (30) don't have long left.
In a snapshot: No club needs a big first half of the year more than Teague's Blues.
8. Chris Fagan – Brisbane
Pass mark: Second week of finals
Started at the Lions: 2017. Contract: 2021.
Record: 26 wins, 42 losses. Finals: 0 wins and 2 losses (no Grand Finals).
We say: Last year was one out of the box, but it doesn't mean the Lions aren't expecting the same this year. The core group of youngsters Hugh McCluggage, Harris Andrews, Jarrod Berry, Eric Hipwood, Cam Rayner and Alex Witherden are now all a year older and aware of what September is about. Didn't have a single surgery after last year's straight-sets finals exit.
In a snapshot: Can't do 'A Melbourne'.
7. Stuart Dew – Gold Coast
Pass mark: Double last year's three wins
Started at the Suns: 2018. Contract: 2020
Record: 7 wins, 37 losses. Finals: Nil.
We say: After two years of a free ride, this is the year the Suns will demand some tangible improvement in the win column. With an abundance of first-round picks, 2020 should be the year the Suns start climbing up the ladder. The imminent contract extension shouldn't blind the need for a big jump this season.
In a snapshot: Must improve on last year.
6. Luke Beveridge – Western Bulldogs
Pass mark: Second week of finals.
Started at the Bulldogs: 2015. Contract: 2023
Record: 64 wins, 52 losses. Finals: Four wins and two losses (one premiership from one Grand Final).
We say: The 2016 premiership was ahead of its time given the age demographic of that group. But now the core group of youngsters are men. A strong finish to make the finals last year, but this team is capable of much more. Bringing in Alex Keath and Josh Bruce only adds to the need for a hit in 2020.
In a snapshot: Time to strike while the iron's hot.
5. Leon Cameron – GWS Giants
Pass mark: Grand Final.
Started at the Giants: 2014. Contract: 2020
Record: 79 wins, 61 losses. Finals: Six wins and five losses (0 premierships from 1 Grand Final).
We say: It's not the 'lose your job type' of pressure, but it's the pressure that presents when your team is right in the hitting zone for a flag. With Stephen Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly all re-signed, the Giants won't get many better chances than this. Cameron has previously navigated his way into finals with a stack of injuries; what can happen with a healthy list? On the verge of signing a fresh extension.
In a snapshot: Time to show why the guns re-signed.
4. Nathan Buckley – Collingwood
Pass mark: Grand Final.
Started at the Magpies: 2012. Contract: 2021
Record: 103 wins, 82 losses. Finals: Four wins and six losses (0 premierships from one Grand Final).
We say: Buckley did all he could to put the Pies in a winning position in the 2018 decider and could only watch on as an undermanned GWS beat his side up around the stoppages in last year's preliminary final. But going through this era without a flag while Scott Pendlebury (32) and Steele Sidebottom (29) are in their prime would be a waste. The last three flag sides have carried an average age of 25-26. The Pies sit right in that window this season.
In a snapshot: Won't get many better chances than 2020.
3. Chris Scott – Geelong
Pass mark: Grand Final.
Started at the Cats: 2011. Contract: 2022.
Record: 148 wins, 65 losses. Finals: Seven wins and 11 losses (one premiership from one Grand Final).
We say: Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins turn 32 this year, Gary Ablett and Harry Taylor are going for one more flag and Jack Steven and Josh Jenkins have arrived. While the Cats will talk about the abundance of youngsters, time is ticking for the top-end guns. The Cats consistently put themselves in the hunt, but Scott is still yet to deliver a Grand Final berth since 2011.
In a snapshot: If it's not this year then when is it?
2. Simon Goodwin – Melbourne
Pass mark: Finals
Started at the Demons: 2017. Contract: 2022
Record: 33 wins, 36 losses. Finals: Two wins and one loss (no Grand Finals).
We say: Nothing went right last year, but the contract extension on the eve of the season masked Goodwin's pressure. That goes out the window now and the intensity will be red-hot in the first six weeks. The recruitment of Ed Langdon and Adam Tomlinson shows the Demons think they're ready. Plus, they won't be afforded the same luxury of two first-round picks at the end of 2020 with North Melbourne holding the Dees' first selection come November. Goodwin has rocketed up from a ranking of 13 at the same stage last year.
In a snapshot: Finals or tension rises.
1. Ken Hinkley – Port Adelaide
Pass mark: Finals.
Started at the Power: 2014. Contract: 2021
Record: 88 wins, 71 losses. Finals: Three wins and three losses (no Grand Finals).
We say: This is self-inflicted. Has stated publicly he has a trigger clause for next season that relies on playing finals this year. And chairman David Koch recently confirmed it's finals or bust. It's for good reason – the Power haven't played a final since 2017, nor won one since 2014. The chat of chasing a flag this year is all well and good. Now it's time to see it in action.
In a snapshot: Make September or pack your bags.