One of the sub-plots of Gold Coast's barnstorming win over Geelong on Saturday night was the move of Jack Bowes back to defence.
Bowes, the 10th pick of the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, came through the SUNS Academy as a gun midfielder, but played half-back in his first season to broaden his game and learn more about senior footy.
The following year he oscillated between defence and the midfield until finding his way to be a permanent onballer in 2019.
But with veteran duo Jarrod Harbrow and Pearce Hanley still slowly making their way back from early pre-season niggles, coach Stuart Dew needed someone he could trust at half-back.
The 22-year-old lined up on his former captain, Gary Ablett, completely blanketing any influence from the dual Brownlow medalist.
Ablett finished with just eight touches, including the odd stint in the middle, while Bowes collected 15.
"It was a great opportunity to go up against one of the great players of the game, and any chance you get to line up against them, you just want to learn and experience the way they play footy, the way they run," Bowes said.
"I've got an enormous amount of respect for Gaz and the way he helped me and mentored me in his years at the Suns was awesome, so it was cool to go up against him and play a role on him."
Gold Coast still has a lot to figure out ahead of round one, with Harbrow and Hanley likely to be available and Bowes and fellow Academy graduate Connor Budarick excelling in defence against the Cats.
For the foreseeable future though, Bowes will put his disciplined approach and good ball use to work in the defensive 50.
"I'm not too certain long term, but definitely short-term that's the way Dewy sees it, so definitely off half-back and hopefully pinch hit in the midfield," he said.
Gold Coast generated 37 scoring shots with a vastly more aggressive style of play, moving the ball on more quickly than it did the past two years.
"Ideally that would be the brand of footy we'd like to carry out throughout all 20-odd rounds, but a footy season is up and down," Bowes said.
"Something we've focused on during the pre-season is our ball movement, particularly from the back half as well.
"A lot of that comes off really hard defence and off-ball stuff that quite often the cameras don't pick up.
"If we can keep it up defensively we know our offence will flow off that.
"If we can maintain that standard throughout the whole year we're going to be in games for longer we're going to be more competitive and give ourselves more opportunity to win.
"The pressure we brought and tackling and intensity from our younger players was awesome."