Darley suffered a bittersweet end to the 2019-20 Ballarat Cricket Association season.
After going undefeated en-route to a grand final berth, the Lions had the premiership handed to them when COVID-19 derailed the decider.
It was hollow way to win the flag, but head coach Brian Wheelahan said it would motivate the club for the 2020-21 campaign.
"We had these visuals and images of taking that last wicket or making that last run," he said.
"We think we deserved it, but it was an empty feeling and hopefully that will drive us this year."
The club will have to overcome the loss of some key players if it is to succeed in its title defence.
EJ Cleary medal finalist Harry Killoran was unable to return from England due to border restrictions, while opener Lachie Herring has gone to Golden Point.
Meanwhile Jake Wilke will take the season off to travel and Ryan Ali will likely to miss time due to unavailability.
Darley retained club leading run-scorer Danza Hyatt, however he will begin the campaign on the back of an immensely difficult off-season.
The West Indie international was one of multiple BCA imports left stranded after border closures thwarted his attempts to get home. Making things harder, his partner has since given birth to a child he is yet to meet.
Regardless, the Lions will be boosted by the presence of Hyatt, who was a pivotal piece in last season's premiership-winning side.
"Danza is a class above," Wheelahan said.
"He sets his expectations high and we are excited for him to lead the way again."
Wheelahan said the club would lean on youngsters Joel Cadman, Drew Locke, Mitch Ward and Jordan Monaghan to fill the vacancies in the top side.
Cadman began in the firsts last season but was dropped as the summer wore on, while Ward established himself in the top side towards the back end.
"We've lost some quality but we are excited with how these young fellas are developing," Wheelahan said.
"We think they can catapult themselves to being consistent senior players for us."