AFTER a tumultuous 2011 on and off the field, new Melbourne president Don McLardy said this year's campaign was about regaining lost credibility and continuing the club's bid to become a league power.
McLardy has replaced Jim Stynes in the top role, with Stynes concentrating on his battle with cancer and spending more time with his family. Stynes, though, will still be available in an advisory role.
The transition will be smooth for McLardy who was vice-president and has been involved in all major decisions since joining the Stynes-led board in 2008. The Demons created news for all the wrong reasons last year, headlined by the axing of coach Dean Bailey, player agitation, the defection of Tom Scully and other significant front-office issues.
McLardy, an insurance and financial services expert, said the club was determined to improve its image.
''I think we have just got to get our credibility back. I think last year was disappointing on many fronts for us,'' McLardy said.
''We are just really determined to be competitive, just compete, we really want to compete hard.
''As I say, if I think we look across our club, we let ourselves down in a few areas last year. I am not making any excuses for that.
''That's what this business is about. It's extremely competitive. It's ruthless. But we are ready for that.
''We want to take Melbourne back to what we see as its rightful place as a power in the AFL.''
The Demons were similarly optimistic this time last year, but the game plan of former coach Bailey was quickly exposed, players soon expressed concerns about the running of the football department and the season turned sour.
''You get judged on what happens out the window there [on the field],'' McLardy said. ''We were disappointing last year and the rest falls in behind that.
''We certainly think we have made very significant progress over the last three or four years in many respects, both on the ground and off the ground. We would expect that is going to continue.''
While Energy Watch has joined as a major backer, the Demons have yet to secure a front-of-the-jumper sponsor. Chief executive Cameron Schwab said he was confident of inking a new deal soon.
The addition of former Brisbane Lions forward Mitch Clark, along with the development of several emerging youngsters, has buoyed hopes the Demons are ready to play finals.
McLardy said he felt there were similarities between Geelong's predicament in 2006 and the Demons of now.
''I still have a lot of confidence in our playing list … I think you only have to look at Geelong's last 10 years, let's say,'' he said.
''After five or six years there were a lot of questions over Geelong's list, enough that they questioned their coach [in 2006].
''The next year they came out and won a premiership.
''I think we have a lot of depth and talent on our list and I am very impressed with our new coaching panel.''
The Demons head into the new campaign with a rookie coach - Mark Neeld has quickly put his teaching pedigree to good use - and a restructured football department. The latest appointment has been that of former captain Greg Healy as football director, acting as a bridge between the football department and the board.
Healy will share the football responsibilities with Neil Craig, the former Adelaide coach who is now the Demons' director of sports performance. ''Greg brings a lot to our footy club. He has always been a passionate Demon,'' McLardy said.