The Black Sticks Women's hockey team arrive in London with realistic aspirations of a podium finish, a turnaround from four years ago when they left Beijing in embarrassment having picked up the wooden spoon after losing every match.
A full review followed on their return to New Zealand and the woeful results cost coach Kevin Towns his job and saw him replaced by former Australian representative Mark Hager.
The no-nonsense approach of Hager proved to be just what was required as he began an overhaul of the squad, turning the previously defensively-minded team into a finely tuned attacking unit.
"We've only got four left from the Beijing team, we've had a huge turnover, it's a younger group and one that plays without a lot of fear and probably a different style of play to what we had in Beijing," Hager told onenews.co.nz.
Hager was a prolific goal scorer in his playing days, with 179 career goals for Australia and, aided by rule changes designed to speed up the game, he has brought his nose for the goal into the Black Sticks' set up.
"He was a great striker for Aussie and he's brought that into our strikers to get them to dive, put your body on the line, that kind of attitude and tried to toughen us up," Co-captain Emily Naylor said.
"He's all about going forward at speed with numbers and I think that's one of our strengths, whereas in the past we haven't been such an attacking side and (he's brought) the mental toughness and goal-scoring attitude."
The introduction of Hager as coach coincided with significant rule changes in the game, most notably the "autopass" rule which allows players to pass the ball to themselves in a free hit situation.
The amendment suited Hager's style perfectly and he moved to select a team that could best exploit the quicker version of the game.
"We've tried to pick players who are quick and also skilful, sometimes it's to our detriment because we concede sometimes too many goals, but we believe if we're going to win games we've got score goals," Hager said.
"For these girls it's hard to hold them back, they want to attack so we give them a bit of a go."
As well as encouraging players to follow their attacking instincts, the hard-nosed Hager has looked to increase their work ethic with his coaching style, which is very much from the old school.
"He doesn't take much nonsense and he can push us pretty hard, at times people don't like it so much when he's telling you to run harder or get lower," Naylor admitted.
"But I think it's good for us and he's pretty straight up so you know where you're at and if people don't know where they're at with their game he'll let them know."
Big game mentality
Now with an average age a touch over 23, an eye for the goal and a hardened mental attitude, the Black Sticks have built a reputation as the giant killers of international hockey. They boast a Champions Challenge title, a Commonwealth Games Silver medal and a Champions Trophy bronze in the last four years, proving that they have what it takes to perform on the biggest stages.
Most significant is their performance in the Champions Trophy in the Netherlands last year where they beat Australia for the first time in a major tournament and recorded an historic draw with the highly ranked hosts.
Naylor said that result has given the side genuine belief that they can achieve what no New Zealand women's team has done before and get on the podium at the Olympic Games.
"I think that's the best New Zealand's ever done and that gave us a lot of confidence and made us realise that we can beat those top teams or level with them."
"We've kind of closed the gap on teams like Australia and Argentina, especially Aussie, I think we've won more than we've lost against them in the last few years so it definitely puts us in good stead."
That is not to say that it will be easy with the format of the Olympic competition meaning they will face a tough task to get into the medal matches.
They open the tournament against Australia (July 29), before big challenges against Argentina and Germany who are both ranked in the world's top three. New Zealand will likely have to beat Australia and knock off one of the giants to qualify for the semi-finals.
"The first game is really important, to beat Aussie would put us in really good stead for the rest of the tournament," Naylor said.
"Knocking off either Argentina or Germany will be a hard ask, but definitely do-able and then we should beat the likes of South Africa and USA who are ranked below us, but we'll definitely have to try and knock one of those teams off."
Should the Black Sticks cause an upset however, a medal is well and truly on the cards with just one win required from the final two matches to ensure a place on the podium.