RICHMOND'S swift exit from last year's finals series has prompted the players to approach pre-season with a determination veteran midfielder Daniel Jackson hasn't seen before.
After qualifying for the finals for the first time since 2001, the Tigers were bounced out in the first week by Carlton – the team that finished ninth before Essendon was expelled from the top eight.
The hype surrounding the Tigers' return to September was massive, as was the hurt felt by the club and its supporters following the 20-point defeat.
Jackson said the standards set by the players in fitness testing in the wake of that loss were "far beyond" anything he'd witnessed since being drafted in 2003.
"This is my 11th pre-season and I've never seen a group come back as a collective as fit as they have, after both the long break and the Christmas break," Jackson said on Wednesday.
"There's no guys who have come back underdone or with high skinfolds or anything like that. It's been really impressive.
"I thought long and hard after that finals loss about one positive I could take out of it, and if nothing else, I already had that burning desire in September before I went on holidays to make sure I came back in good nick.
"I think everyone else was exactly the same. No one rested on their laurels."
Fit defender Brandon Ellis has stood out in training while recent draftee and former Sydney Swans/North Adelaide midfielder-forward Nathan Gordon blitzed the field in a 2km time trial on the weekend.
Jackson said a number of the older players were also setting high standards on the track, with a determination to right some wrongs when the season starts for the Tigers on March 15 against Gold Coast.
"As an older player, you know not to dwell about what you read or what you've done in the past; it's all about the next game," he said.
"Unfortunately when it gets to the last game of the year, it's a long time until you get to redeem yourself but there's always another game and it's coming up quicker than everyone thinks so we're focusing on that more than the past."
Jackson said losing the match to the Blues in front of the finals-starved and passionate Tiger Army left "a lot to be desired" ahead of this season.
He also said the experience of playing on the September stage, coupled with further development of the list, left Richmond in a positive position to take another step in 2014.
"Every footy club is looking to get better and we're certainly aiming to do better again," he said.
"That just comes with the maturity of the group, the exposure to finals last year and another year under everyone's belt, a few good recruits and the young guys who have come in have really taken to it.
"It all moves forward and we feel like we're in a good space now."
The Tigers play their first NAB Challenge match on Friday, February 14 against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.