Approaching the halfway point of what GIANTS hope will be their march to a maiden premiership, there is no doubting the GIANTS are a fitter, happier and more productive team compared to 2018.
The premiership contenders have a golden chance to shore up their top-four spot on Saturday, when they host Gold Coast at Giants Stadium.
The GIANTS boast a 7-3 record and are the only team to have defeated the flag favourites – a stunning victory in Geelong, given GIANTS captain Callan Ward's season-ending knee injury.
At the same juncture of 2018, the GIANTS were dubbed a club in crisis on account of a four-match losing streak and a stack of injuries that threatened to derail their campaign.
Leon Cameron's team rallied last year, eventually falling to Collingwood in a semi-final. They appear to be building a much sturdier platform to launch from this September.
"This time last year, we probably had six or seven guys (from the AFL squad) running around in our NEAFL team," Cameron told reporters on Friday.
"Tomorrow, there will be 16. Hopefully, we gain a couple more back next week.
"Regularly having 16-18 players, playing a really good brand of footy (in the seconds), no doubt you (as a player in the AFL team) are looking over your shoulder.
"If they drop away, there will be consequences. That sort of pressure from below is making our players turn up."
The GIANTS have also increased their potency in 2019, averaging almost 20 points more a game as opposed to the first half of 2018.
The form of Coleman medal leader Jeremy Cameron and Jeremy Finlayson, who have kicked a combined 55 goals, has been key, while the GIANTS have clearly adjusted better to off-season rule changes compared to some clubs.
"There's going to be a fair bit of a narrative around less scores with the rule changes. From our point of view, we've actually gone and found a couple of goals – which we're really pleased about," Cameron said.
Even when it comes to contract negotiations, the Giants are more advanced than 2018.
Dylan Shiel, Rory Lobb, Tom Scully and Will Setterfield all left the GIANTS last year amid a salary-cap squeeze, with Shiel's future a constant point of speculation throughout their season.
Now, gun midfielder Josh Kelly has already recommitted, and fellow vice-captain Stephen Coniglio is close to doing the same.
"I think it'll be a matter of time over the next month," Cameron said.
Cameron forecast a "dogged fight" in this weekend's battle of the expansion clubs, noting the Suns had found a "hard edge".