A 1-3 start to a season with an average losing margin of 57.67 points does not exactly spell success in the Central Highlands Football League.
Considering the first month included games against three of the eventual top four sides, the record did not reflect the strength of Skipton's list, a point the Emus proved through the middle to second-half of the season as the new-look side built some chemistry week-to-week.
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A host of new players played their first game in Emus' colours, including co-coach Sam Willian, star midfielder Mitch Gilbert, Nathan Olver, Daniel Kilpatrick, Jack Romeril, among others.
"Early days I think for us it was pretty tough, we started 1-3, we tried to play a completely new game style and a lot of the boys probably weren't aware of it or they hadn't played like that previously," Willian said.
"We worked through it ... and fought back pretty well."
A 46-point win over the previously undefeated Rokewood-Corindhap in round five seemed to be the turning point for Skipton after big losses to the league's top two sides, Gordon and Hepburn.
From there, the Emus went from strength-to-strength.
"That Rokewood game, we played them at home and it was actually our 20-year premiership reunion ... they had a big lunch on ... so there was 50-odd of them in there ... the crowd actually lifted us up," Willian said.
"I think the confidence within ourselves to think 'alright we can actually do this, we can play this game style, we can win games of footy,' kind of grew from there.
"We just got on a little bit of a roll and just were able to keep it going."
They carried on to win another five-straight games following the victory over the Grasshoppers and in the process, picked up some valuable percentage that it lacked during the early stages of the season.
A 19.14 (128) - 10.7 (67) win over Creswick in round six, highlighted by a 10-goal final term, got the Emus' offensive game flowing and they backed it up a few weeks later with a 17.14 (116) - 3.4 (22) win over Carngham-Linton.
It was the important, tough wins in-between that set Skipton up for a second consecutive finals series though.
An eight-point win over Daylesford and a 12-point win over reigning premiers Waubra away from home were the close victories the Emus needed.
Back-to-back losses to Springbank and Buninyong at the end of the season cost Skipton a possible top four spot but also highlighted some of the key needs it must fill in the off-season.
Like most clubs would say, a dominant key forward would be handy, which is exactly the case for Skipton.
Fellow co-coach Andrew Pitson was forced to take the key forward role in the forward 50, playing undersized compared to some of the big forwards and defenders in the league.
A big man to stand beside Pitson at that end of the ground frees him up to be taken by the second-best defender and gives the Emus another option going inside 50.
If recruit Rhys Monument is able to return from injury, he will add another dimension to the forward mix.
Pitson added that the continued development of the club's youngsters is important.
"That's what we're trying to do as a club, sustained success so hopefully a few young fellas can step up a bit next year and take on 2022," he said.
With the likes of first-year Emus Mitch Gilbert, Sam Willian, Nathan Olver, Matthew Romeril and Jack Romeril alongside the players that built the club back into a contender, a strong base has now been built for Skipton going forward.
The jump into a top four contender is not a big one, as Rokewood-Corindhap and Dunnstown proved this season.
Expect to see Skipton challenging once again in 2022 with another pre-season as a group under the side's belt.
7-5, 58.33 per cent games won, 113.92 traditional percentage
Andrew Pitson (26)
Round one: defeated by Gordon 8.10 (58) - 19.12 (126)
Round two: defeated by Dunnstown 8.13 (61) - 12.6 (78)
Round three: defeated Beaufort 17.17 (119) - 6.4 (40)
Round four: defeated by Hepburn 10.6 (66) - 23.16 (154)
Round five: defeated Rokewood-Corindhap 15.7 (97) - 7.9 (51)
Round six: defeated Creswick 19.14 (128) - 10.7 (67)
Round nine: defeated Learmonth 13.12 (90) - 7.5 (47)
Round 10: defeated Daylesford 5.8 (38) - 3.12 (30)
Round 11: defeated Carngham-Linton 17.14 (116) - 3.4 (22)
Round 12: defeated Waubra 7.9 (51) - 5.9 (39)
Round 15: defeated by Springbank 9.7 (61) - 13.11 (89)
Round 17: defeated by Buninyong 6.12 (48) - 11.10 (76)
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