HAMILTON -- Pumped to kick off the 2011 season in front of their home crowd, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats enter the year with hopes of shaking that old 9-9 record and the first-round exit they've seen in the past two years.
With an overhauled defence and running back Avon Cobourne now in the fold, the Ticats hope to challenge for the top spot in the CFL's Eastern Conference, which has been nailed down by the Montreal Alouettes since 2008.
The Tiger-Cats look to Cobourne to help them past the first round of the playoffs, but the ex-Alouette has other plans in mind.
"All I'm used to is getting that first round bye and that's my focus," said Cobourne, trying to bring a new attitude into Hamilton. "This is my first year here and it's going to be business as usual."
Heading into his third season in Hamilton, quarterback Kevin Glenn said the edge his team plays with is what will make the difference.
"I think the biggest thing is attitude," said Glenn. "It's a different atmosphere and a different attitude around here."
Fueling their new outlook could be the lack of recognition the Ticats are getting from the rest of the league.
Hamilton was a trendy pick to jump into Grey Cup contention a year ago after ending a four-year playoff drought in 2009. After stalling their engine with the same record and outcome in 2010, teams like the Argonauts and Blue Bombers have taken their position as sleeper teams in the East.
Ticats receiver Maurice Mann tunes out what he hears about other CFL teams.
"It's about us. We're not concerned with what they're doing," said Mann. "Our scheme is what ultimately matters."
The team knows they're the only ones who can control their fate, leaving the past two seasons behind them.
"I've got a whole different outlook going in," said Mann who's looking for his first 1,000-yard season. "I'm maturing a little bit each and every year, each and every game. I'm just trying to better myself and better other people around me."
If the Ticats want to turn their recent luck around this year, the season opener in front of a packed house of Tiger-Cats faithful is the perfect opportunity out of the gate.
Hamilton has lost their last six season openers. The last win the team had to begin the year came in 2004, the last season the Tiger-Cats posted a winning record, finishing 9-8-1.
The opener will see the Tiger-Cats face off against an up and coming eastern rival in the Blue Bombers -- also Kevin Glenn's former team.
Glenn said any edge he plays with in the game will be what he takes with him into the season and not a grudge against the team that released him.
"I'm not a spiteful person," said Glenn. "I just go out and I try to play good sound football every game and if Winnipeg is a team that I've had a lot of success against, then I don't know why."