The Dallas Cowboys looked capable of ending a 26-year Super Bowl drought last year until the San Francisco 49ers doused their fans' fervour in the playoffs.
America's Team, on paper, now appear weaker than they were going into the 2021 season, which came to an abrupt halt on Wild Card Weekend.
Starting-calibre players like receiver Amari Cooper, right tackle La'el Collins, receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. and defensive end Randy Gregory have gone and the Cowboys have replaced them with low-cost free agents.
So the prospects of Mike McCarthy taking his team deep in the postseason seem to hang on Dak Prescott working his magic with a mediocre receiving corps.
NFL Season 2022/23
All across the USA with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City
8th September 2022 - 12th February 2023
|How to watch|
The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
|Odds||BUF Bills 6/1, TB Buccaneers 7/1, KC Chiefs 10/1, LA Rams 10/1, GB Packers 12/1|
1st NFC East (12-5)
The 23/20 Cowboys are in good shape to become the first team in almost 20 years to win the NFC East for a second-straight year because the level of competition isn't great.
The 9/5 Philadelphia Eagles are rated their nearest challengers with the Washington Commanders at 5/1 and the New York Giants an 8/1 long-shot to go from worst to first.
A generation of Cowboys fans has never seen America's Team win a championship as they last got their hands on the Lombardi Trophy in 1995.
That drought doesn't look like coming to an end in 2022/23, but if McCarthy's men can avoid another early postseason exit then a run to the conference championship is not beyond their reach.
Dallas are the fifth team listed in the betting for the NFC crown at 17/2 with the 3/1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers the pre-season favourites to clinch a Super Bowl.
The Bucs are first up for the Cowboys in 2022 with Tom Brady scheduled to bring the NFC South champions to Big D for a primetime Sunday night matchup.
History is certainly on Dallas' side as the two teams have met each other 20 times, including twice in the postseason, with the Cowboys victorious on 15 occasions.
Brady got the better of Prescott in last season's regular season matchup, which finished 31-29 and was also played in Week 1, at Raymond James Stadium.
The Cowboys are 11/10 on the Money Line with Tampa Bay at 10/13 for the win.
After the early test from Tampa, the Cowboys face the two reigning conference champions before their Week 9 bye.
The Cincinnati Bengals arrive at in Week 2 and Dallas head west to take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5.
But the pivotal clash of the campaign will surely be the clash with the Green Bay Packers at a chilly Lambeau Field on Sunday 13th November.
The Packers have come out on top in eight of the last nine meetings and, although Dallas have won in Wisconsin within the last few years, the last time they came back from the 'frozen tundra' with a victory in November or later was back in 1978.
About to start his third season in Dallas, McCarthy is building towards something he achieved within five years at the helm in Green Bay - delivering a Super Bowl win.
He led the Packers to the playoffs in the next six seasons too - and two NFC Championship games - but was fired a year after a 7-9 campaign that was largely defined by Aaron Rodgers' collarbone injury.
The knives were out for him in Dallas as Prescott's injury problems led to a 6-10 return on his first year, but last season's progress was clear - until the San Francisco 49ers upset the odds by winning the wild card clash.
RB Ryan Nall (Chicago Bears)
WR James Washington (Pittsburgh Steelers)
DE Dante Fowler (Atlanta Falcons)
LB Anthony Barr (Minnesota Vikings)
LB Malik Jefferson (Indianapolis Colts)
RB Corey Clement (Baltimore Ravens)
WR Amari Cooper (Cleveland Browns)
WR Malik Turner (San Francisco 49ers)
WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. (Miami Dolphins)
TE Blake Jarwin
OT La'el Collins (Cincinnati Bengals)
OT Mitch Hyatt
OT Ty Nsekhe
OG Connor Williams (Miami Dolphins)
DE Bradlee Anae (New York Jets)
DE Randy Gregory (Denver Broncos)
DT Brent Urban (Baltimore Ravens)
LB Francis Bernard
LB Keanu Neal (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
CB Maurice Canady (New York Giants)
CB Reggie Robinson II (Cleveland Browns)
FS Damontae Kazee (Pittsburgh Steelers)
K Greg Zuerlein (New York Jets)
OT Tyler Smith (1st Round)
LB Micah Parsons
Prescott returned from a 2020 compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle and looked better than ever in the first six games of 2021, throwing 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions and posting a 115.0 passer rating.
But he wasn't quite the same upon his return from a one-game absence in mid-season, as his subsequent passer rating slid to an ordinary 98.1.
As one of the NFL's highest-paid quarterbacks, Prescott needs to maintain that elite level down the stretch this year.
Trevon Diggs made the All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl after his 11 interceptions in 2021 tied a franchise record, but the cornerback still has a bit to prove as a cover man.
Micah Parsons was unlucky not to set the NFL rookie record for sacks last year as he tallied 13 with 20 tackles for a loss and 30 quarterback hits in 16 starts. The Defensive Rookie of the Year was also named an All-Pro and starts the season as one of the leading contenders for Defensive Player of the Year, for which he is 9/1.