WEST Coast skipper Luke Shuey says the Eagles have learnt plenty from last season, where they battled in two visits to Gold Coast hubs, dominated at their Optus Stadium home and eventually got bundled out by Collingwood in a thrilling elimination final.
But no matter how difficult the Eagles found things in a footy sense, Shuey freely acknowledges hub life paled in relation to the struggles that the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted on people in more regular pursuits.
"The challenges we were facing probably don't compare to the ones going on around the country for everyday people and business and companies," he said.'
"We need to realise we still had an opportunity to do what we love and make an income, but it was hard at times to leave family behind, but things are looking positive for this year.
"With this sort of thing you've got no option but to grit your teeth and move on and get going.
"You learn from what you didn't do well and try and improve from that.
"Once you figure that out, you leave it all behind and worry about what's important and that's what's in store for us over the next seven or eight months."
Fortunately, Shuey has an ideal model of resilience just down the road from his house as he looks to lead West Coast back to the promised land in 2021.
Like so many small businesses around the country, Cambridge Corner Store in the western Perth suburb of Floreat has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And much like the Eagles, 2020 didn't quite pan out as they had hoped.
"What's happened over the last 12 months has hurt most businesses, so the more we can do as general public to help any small business we can, the whole economy and everyone will be better off in the long run," Shuey said.
"Supporting small businesses has probably never been more important in my life.
"They do the morning coffee for us, but they've got all our other needs, so if we need last-minute nappies or a meal for the kids if they're going crazy in the arvos, they've got everything we need.
"Above all us, they're lovely people."
To support small businesses across Australia, Telstra has launched a new campaign that will give away $1 million of digital signage during round eight of the AFL premiership season.
Telstra is also giving away free Telstra Business Go Digital consultations, normally valued at $149.
For more information on getting your small business up in lights on the big stage and to enter Telstra's giveaway, click here.