THE YEAR 2020 proved annus horribilis for much of society - and sporting clubs weren't immune. Yet few AFL sides underwhelmed amid the chaos as much as Greater Western Sydney.

Pundits' pre-season predictions of a maiden premiership for the Giants looked sound after Jeremy Cameron booted three goals in an impressive round-one win over Geelong.

Some eight months later, Cameron's departure to the Cats was one of many causes for concern after a 10th-placed finish.

There was plenty of fodder for the 2020 review as GWS plotted how to bounce back in their 10th season.

Where did it all go wrong for new captain Stephen Coniglio, who became the first skipper in 22 years to be dropped?

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: Stephen Coniglio of the Giants , poses during the 2021 AFL Captain's Day on March 10, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images via AFL Photos)

What, if anything, could have been done differently to keep some of Cameron, Zac Williams, Aidan Corr, Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately and Zac Langdon at the club?

Did GWS struggle with hub life? If so, why?

When they were crushed in the 2019 Toyota AFL Grand Final, did it leave some scars?

"We're not about making excuses," coach Leon Cameron said.

"If you come up with excuses and say it was the hub, I reckon that'd be disappointing. That's the easy way out."

Cameron is reluctant to look in his rear-view mirror, having already assessed the wreckage after GWS failed to finish in the top eight for the first time since 2016.

The driver of the so-called 'orange Ferrari' knows that quantifying various factors contributing to their slide towards mid-table mediocrity is tricky and fraught with danger.

When pressed, Cameron casts his mind back to a shock 41-point loss to Sydney in Perth.

"We probably hit a low point when we were in the hub there," Cameron said.

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"But we found our way out of it, played maybe our best game of the year against the Dockers in Perth.

"Did we not have the best-laid plans put in place for the hub? We were in the same sort of hotel as everyone else.

"Was our footy not right because there were hub disturbances? You can go round in circles."

It will ideally be a moot point, but Cameron admitted his club will tweak some things if thrown into another hub.

"We learned a lot," he said.

"Maybe as a coach or coaching staff, were we in the faces of players in downtime? It's hard to say.

"Ultimately there were nine sides better than us. We didn't have a great year.

"We acknowledged it, didn't put our heads in the sand. We addressed it and moved on."

The departure of key forward Jeremy Cameron and speedster Williams, both much-loved figures at the club, left a major void on and off the field.

All eyes will be on prized recruit Jesse Hogan when he returns from a quad injury, while Tom Green and other youngsters will shoulder added responsibility.

Leon Cameron points to Coniglio, Toby Greene and Lachie Whitfield all likely finishing as one-club players as proof the Giants can retain in-demand talent.

Cameron also highlights how there was no single catalyst for those who wanted out; the carrots dangled were different.

"And if you look at it closely, they all went to the death knock. They didn't want to leave," he said.

"Look at Jeremy, the pull of his family.

"Did the hub help that? Probably not. Didn't see his family all year, that probably tipped him over the edge."

Cameron argued most captains have early challenges adjusting to what can be a "lonely job".

"I'm really confident he (Conilgio) is going to learn a lot from that first year," he said.

Cameron is likewise upbeat about 2021.

"Our aim is to play finals ... if you're good enough to play finals footy then anything can happen," he said.