Max Goddard is aiming to steer Waterlooville from mid-table comfort into a promotion scrap.
The Rowlands Avenue outfit celebrated their return to the Southern Electric Premier League with a fifth place finish in division three last term.
A late promotion challenge was derailed by four consecutive defeats as their summer limped to a close.
Waterlooville travel to face Alton’s second string tomorrow (1pm).
And Goddard, who has taken over the reins from Jon Hudson, is ‘optimistic’ they can bridge the gap to the division’s leading lights.
The 29-year-old all-rounder said: ‘We lost a lot of close games last season but if we can turn those into wins this summer, hopefully we can finish in the top two.
‘We are optimistic but not expecting it.
‘We have had a good pre-season and everyone is looking pretty sharp.’
Brad Mengham and Tim Jackson have arrived at the club from Bedhampton and Havant respectively.
Goddard has also welcomed Australian batsman Samuel Williams from Adelaide.
But he will be without Nathan White, who is set for reconstructive surgery on a cruciate ligament.
The rest of the side is the same, with James Scutt, who topped the division’s batting charts last term, and strike bowler Sam Hillman likely to be key men again.
Elsewhere, Gosport Borough make their return to the league with a trip to Havant Park.
Tom Larner led them to promotion from the Hampshire League last summer and he is hoping to see his settled side kick on.
Larner said: ‘We have been a young team that has been building for a few years now.
‘We will be trying to make sure we get enough points to stay up but as long as we are winning games and enjoying our cricket, that is the main thing.’
Dale Patternote is unavailable but Australian all-rounder Blake Maher has replaced last term’s overseas star, Shaun McCarthy, who notched 799 league runs.
Borough tackle Graham Burns’ Havant II tomorrow.
The hosts were relegated from division two last term but are aiming to bounce straight back up.