Johannesburg - After finishing last season bottom of the log, Lions cricket coach Geoffrey Toyana says his side wants to start the new campaign well ahead of their domestic four-day match against the Titans at the Wanderers on Thursday.
The Lions had the unenviable honour of finishing last in all three formats - four-day, one-day and T20.
"We had a tough off-season. We've played a number of friendly games and the boys have worked very hard as our last season was not that great," Toyana said on Monday.
"It's been many years since we won the four-day competition. We've got to hit the ground running, how we start will determine how we move forward."
The Lions last claimed top honours in four-day cricket in the 1999/2000 season.
In the bowling department, the Lions have 19-year-old Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Hardus Viljoen - all gunning for a place in the team.
With the pitch being a bit slower coming out of winter it could be the spinners who play a big role.
"It's always slow around this time of year, but it will be quite interesting how we pick our side," Toyana said.
"I've also got two spinners in Aaron Phangiso and Eddie Leie. It's going to be tough selecting a side to play the Titans."
Meanwhile, Titans captain Henry Davids said his side was shaping up well ahead of the new season.
"Most of the guys are in very good nick and it's going to be a headache picking the side for the first game," Davids said.
The Titans ended last season in fourth place, with just three wins from 10 games in the competition. The Pretoria outfit did manage two wins in a row to end last season, and Davids was keen to keep up that winning momentum.
"We've struggled in four-day cricket the last year-and-a-half, but at the end of last season we started to learn how to be better in this format.
"It doesn't matter who we play against. We just have to work on the same things we were at the end of last season."
The Titans, however, would be without the services of Albie Morkel and David Wiese for the first game as both were struggling with ankle injuries. Despite the injuries, Davids said his side was capable of setting a winning precedent.
"Luckily we have a very big squad and it will give other guys opportunities," he said.
"We have to get into good habits, and if we can win the first two games and play with positive intent we can do well."
In the other match, the Knights host the Warriors in Bloemfontein.
The Cape Cobras and the Dolphins miss the first two rounds of fixtures due to their Champions League T20 commitments in India.