Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates' ability to win the Absa Premiership next May faces an early examination by a revived BidVest Wits at Milpark on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 15:00.
Bucs last won the league title in the 2002/03 season and have also failed to win a knockout trophy in the past decade, but the Pirates faithful hope all that will change this season after they have beefed up their squad.
Bucs spokesperson Mickey Modisane, however, stopped short on Thursday of predicting Pirates would win the title this season. “This is a marathon and we are only at the start," he said.
"This is only our third league match, but we are determined not to make the mistakes we made last season where we dropped stupid points which cost us dearly.”
Modisane said the new recruits had boosted Bucs' hopes of winning silverware as coach Ruud Krol now has the material to work with.
But they face a stiff test against a fired up Wits. They are wary of their former player, Stanton Fredericks, who rejoined The Clever Boys after a stint in Russia.
Fredericks started his career with Wits in 1995, has played for both Pirates and Chiefs and has 14 Bafana caps under his belt. He will lend more experience to the midfield.
Among the newcomers to the Bucs ship are flying winger Daine Klate, who looks to be one of Bucs best signings for a while, defender Reuben Cloete, strikers Malawian international Chiukepo Msowoya and Nigerian Ezenwa Otorugu, plus midfielders Clifford Ngobeni and Mark Mayambela.
Krol is still trying to solve his side’s goal scoring problem after a dull 0-0 stalemate against Free State Stars in their previous league clash played at the FNB Stadium last Wednesday night.
Bucs are unbeaten in two matches played so far, beating rookies Vasco da Gama 2-1 in Cape Town in their opening fixture and drawing 1-1 against Kaizer Chiefs in a pulsating MTN8 semi-final first leg clash last Saturday.
Wits started their season with a 3-0 thumping of champions SuperSport United, but crashed 2-1 away to Santos, thanks to an injury time goal in their second fixture.
Coach Roger de Sa knows how ambitious Pirates are this season. “They are stronger and have impressed me," he said.
"I have a young side who despite lacking experience, will give Pirates a run for their money.”
Chiefs play Bloemfontein Celtic in what promises to be a closely fought affair at the Rand Stadium at 18:00.
Celtic will be looking to avenge the 1-0 defeat Amakhosi inflicted on them in last month’s MTN8 quarterfinal clash at the same venue.
Saturday’s other big clash is the showdown at the Super Stadium (Lucas Moripe Stadium) where Mamelodi Sundowns host SuperSport in a Pretoria Derby. Kick-off is at 20:15.
On Sunday Mpumalanga Black Aces entertain Santos at the Puma Stadium in Witbank looking for their first points of the season, while at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, AmaZulu take on Moroka Swallows. Both kick-off at 15:00.