TYNEDALE entertain Harrogate on Saturday unfazed that success will only confirm their tag as the National Three North team to beat.
Having lost out on promotion at the play-off stage last season to Westcombe Park, then of National Three South, the men from Corbridge effectively ended the term the best of the rest.
It is only natural, then, that other teams will use them as a benchmark while the early-season barometers level out.
And while many sides have been unsettled by such fate, chairman of rugby John Shotton said his players will not worry about any status bestowed upon them.
Facing the side that came bottom of National Two last year, it would be easy to assume a certain parity in ability – but Shotton said that is exactly the thinking his squad is shying away from.
Shotton said: “We never worry about what other people are saying, we just get on with what we are doing.
“It would be easy to get caught up in all that, as it would make sense other people are looking to us to reproduce the form of last season and be one of the main contenders for promotion.
“But we are not thinking like that. In a rather more pragmatic approach, we are just working game by game.
“We had a good win last week, so we go into this match with a bit of confidence, but clear about the fact that we can still get a lot better and we certainly didn’t play to our best last week.
“Ben Duncan is back in the squad after missing the whole pre-season with a neck injury, while Jack Smales is in France with England Counties.
“And we are delighted to welcome Mark Laycock back to the squad after nine months out with a broken leg.
“We’ll hold off on the decision on him until quite late, but he has made great progress after what was a nasty injury and everyone is excited to see him back.”
The England Counties fixture means there are no National Two matches, so Blaydon have a free weekend.
Westoe travel to Liverpool-St Helens in North One, while Morpeth face Asptria and Gateshead take on York in North Two East.
In Durham/Northumberland One, Alnwick entertain Ponteland, Gosforth host Stockton and Northern clash with Wallsend.
Whitley Bay Rockcliff make the trip to Barnard Castle, while Novos are at Consett and Winlaton take on Ashington in Durham/Northumberland Two.
TYNEDALE (Harrogate, home 3pm) from: Rob McDermott; Jack Harrison; Phil Belgian; Jake White; Ben Duncan; Mark Laycock; Rob Miller; Ross Samson; Micky Young; Jamie Harrison; Peter Southern; Rupert Harden; Dan Herdman; Aaron Charlton; Rob Vickers; Tim Swinson; Ben Marshall; Andrew Murray; Matthew Fieldhouse; Jamie Murray; Grant Rastall; Graeme MacGilchrist.
NOVOS (Consett, away): Matt Bradford; Rich Mitchell; Joe Moore; Dan Bollado; Richard Moat; Si Greetham; Gareth Ford; Mo Finlay; Rory Clarke; Nick Cotterill; James Desmond; Ed Yuill; Dave Cavanagh; Ben Merrett; Seamus Kelleher (c). Reps: Chris Fife; Ross McDonald; James Forbes.
NORTHERN (Wallsend, home) from: N Hart; N Welton; A Moore; L Archer; B Ryan; A Douglas; I Pearson; G Smith; A Burdon; D Kay; S Kryziack; J Job; D O’Sullivan; S Stirling; P Scott; R Thompson; G Hall; S Ford; P James.
WINLATON (Ashington, home): I Fleming; G Hendry; M Jonhstone; A Horsfall; E Peel; L Mitchell; S Macleod; L Cash; G Allison; S Urwin (c); M Bowles; L Dixon; D Hunter; S Scullion; K Scott. Reps: M Wharton; D Middleton; A Robinson.