One of the biggest acquisitions of the off-season was Collingwood's move to lure superstar disposal-winner, Tom Mitchell. But former skipper Scott Pendlebury has hinted that the club is not emphasising a high-possession responsibility from the midfielder.

Mitchell, 29, had grown accustomed to accumulating close to 36 disposals per game in his prime years at Hawthorn, making him a yearly All-Australian fancy and Brownlow medal winner in 2018.

In 2017 and 2018, Mitchell achieved the two highest disposal averages in AFL history, racking up 35.8 & 35.3 per game respectively. He also had three 50+ disposal performances in this two-year period, including a record-breaking 54 touches in Round 1, 2018 vs Collingwood.

Unfortunately, Mitchell's production took a hit upon the departure of Alastair Clarkson from the Hawks. On a rebuilding list in 2022, his centre bounce attendances dropped to 53 per game, down from an average of 70 the year before.

While Mitchell's move to Collingwood will allow him more midfield minutes, it may not increase his production dramatically, with Pendlebury indicating that he will have to slot into the Magpie's fast-paced tempo and defensive accountability.

“It is not going to be the Tom Mitchell who goes out there and has 35 or 40 possessions every week,” Pendlebury told News Corp. 

“It's the Tom Mitchell who dominates around the footy and is a beast around the ball, but also puts on pressure, tackles, and he probably doesn't feel like he has to be best on ground for us to win.

“He has just got to do his job because he addresses a great need for us. We haven't been great around the footy with our clearance work and that is his one-wood.”

As a side last year, Collingwood were routinely trounced in most statistical categories, particularly stoppages and clearances, but made up for it with their dominance around the ground.

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While Mitchell should help shift the stoppage numbers in Collingwood's favour, there doesn't appear to be a focus on dramatically improving these areas, given their ability to win games elsewhere.

“We will play much the same (style),” Pendlebury said.

“We played our style for about 50 or 60 per cent of games and I feel like in the finals we were close to 70 per cent (against Geelong and Sydney Swans).

“But we were on the fly a lot last year learning a lot of how we want to play throughout the weeks and trying to figure out how it all works.

“Winning 11 close games obviously helps, but we can't rely on winning another 11 close games this year.

“We understand we start 18th and we have to build throughout the season.”

SuperCoach and fantasy team owners will be holding their breath on what Mitchell's role looks like come Round 1, but Pies fans should be excited for another thrilling year of fast-paced footy from their side.

Collingwood and Mitchell will face their first big test on Friday, March 17 in a Round 1 blockbuster against reigning premiers, Geelong.