The connection of a team, the power of unity, the urgency of selflessness: the pillars of St Kilda’s journey forward. It's nothing the Saints haven't heard before.

As the Saints sit in the club theatrette during Monday's routine team meeting, Brett Ratten stands in front of the group to hammer the points home.

His message is crystal clear, as it has been all pre-season. But now, those values are more important than ever.

Less than a week out from the club's season opener against GWS, it's almost time to see whether they will again withstand the pressures of the incoming season.

Every player has their role to push the Saints deeper and deeper into finals football, every small win and sacrifice amounts to the bigger picture.

'There’s no "me", it’s "we",' Ratten implores. To push towards success takes all, not one.

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Tim Membrey’s selflessness last season is an indisputable example, with the key forward sacrificing his high goalkicking numbers in order to help his team secure the four points.

Jack Sinclair was another, pulled out of his comfort zone after a tumultuous start to the year and subsequently dropped here, there and everywhere in order to execute the role his side needed him to.

Then there’s the players like Dougal Howard, whose white-line fever could barely be contained. The leadership of Jarryn Geary, the sacrificial roles of Seb Ross, the commitment of last season’s non-playing squad. The list goes on.

Now, the onus is on the players.

'What does selflessness and connection mean to you?' Ratten asks the group.

Several Saints chip in as nods of agreement and affirmation from the senior coaches add to the growing conversation.

But there's one answer which resonates most: the most defining wins from last season were won as a collective, not off the back of one man’s performance.

It was an even spread across the board: the team winning games, not individuals.

For every Jack Steele masterclass, there was the support of an unflinching midfield fleet. Every desperate Callum Wilkie spoil was met by a surge of crumbing defenders, each Dan Butler goal the product of team pressure.

This season, Ratten urges, the same mindset must be taken by every player in the side.

That mentality is even more important with the Saints finding themselves in choppy waters on the eve of Round 1. Unforeseeable injuries and unfortunate strokes of bad luck have undoubtedly placed strain on each line.

But now is where depth comes into play, and most importantly, team mettle is put to the test. 

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There are new players waiting in the wings who can sense an opportunity and have the hunger to seize it.

Paul Hunter is in line for a Round 1 berth in the absences of Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder, Mason Wood and Shaun McKernan are knocking down the door for a spot up forward, while Tom Highmore is eyeing off a place across half-back.

Externally, the excitement around Jack Higgins and Brad Crouch continues to bubble away as the days tick down towards their respective club debuts. While they were drafted for their football talents and capabilities, it's their buy-in to the Saints' values which Ratten places emphasis on. 

It once again falls back to Saints' key mantra: connection, unity, selflessness. Everything you do, you do for the team.

“There’s going to be ups and downs. It’s not going to be perfect," Ratten said.

“We’re all passionate and there’s things on the line. We all want to win and we want to be part of something special.

"There’s going to be laughter, smiles, there’s probably going to be tears and losses along the way. That's footy."