THIS time last year Perth had a horror injury list entering the 2017 WAFL season and things never quite improved, but it's a healthier looking Demons 12 months later and coach Earl Spalding hopes that some improvements in their game plan too can lead to a vastly improved season.
Perth's hopes of starting 2017 at full strength were dashed with pre-season injuries to the likes Jared Bell, Cody Leggett, Lachlan Dennis, Kristian Cary and Jarrad Irons while Angus Graham left them short in the ruck when he upped and left not too long before the season-opener.
Things never really improved for the Demons throughout the season with Michael Sinclair, Devin McFarlane, Brant Colledge, Liam McKenna, Brent Edmonds, Laine Wilkins, Sam Garstone and Spencer White going on to miss at least four games, and in many case more than half the season.
The end result was just the three wins for the season for Perth with an 11-game losing run up until a win by five points over East Perth in their last game.
They ended up with another wooden spoon but that doesn't mean there weren't encouraging signs along the way. Clint Jones, Sinclair and McFarlane were particularly strong contributors while Corey Byrne was one of a host of players who benefited from their increased opportunities.
Now there are some further good signs that Spalding hopes to build on this season which will be helped by the additions of the likes of Corey Yeo, Richard Bourne, Matt Taylor, Ben Giobbi and Mitch Lague despite the loss of some more key players including Aidan Tropiano and Brent Latch.
For Spalding, as much as personnel was an issue, it was always about the style of players he felt Perth needed to find and getting some more outside run into the group became a focus.
"We identified that our outside run wasn’t where we wanted it to be. We thought we were pretty good inside the game, but outside we got chopped up a bit at times. We've gone to try and get some help in that area," Spalding told 91.3 SportFM.
"Richie Bourne has come to the club and he can really motor and kick the ball well. Ben Giobbi is a bit inside and outside and he's come across from the Casey Scorpions so he'll add to that.
"Matty Taylor comes back from his one year at North Melbourne and he will be ready to go so he gives us really good outside run and ball use.
"Down back we thought we were probably one defender short and Latch goes out, but Mitch Lague comes in from East Perth who brings some experience and he's a real competitor.
"Up forward we just need a clean run with injuries after Spencer only played seven games and Sammy eight last year. If we can keep them fit we have some exciting young small forwards and mids coming through as well."