Collingwood's quest for back-to-back premierships is about to get underway, as season 2024 is merely days away.

Following an extraordinary transformation under Craig 'Fly' McRae, the Pies went from most hated to everyone's second favourite team as they stormed toward ultimate glory.

However, they say once you climb the mountain, it's near impossible to stay up there, as the hunters have now become the hunted.

With all 17 clubs looking at how they can beat the reigning premiers, McRae's men are adamant that they are seeking new and innovative ways to keep improving, to keep getting better.

The mantra for the black and white's pre-season heading into 2024 isn't what you'd expect, with the club and its players steering well clear of the phrase 'back-to-back'.

Instead, Collingwood is wiping the windscreen clean - a metaphor used by McRae to put the past behind - and looking at getting "back to work".

So are McRae's men ready to scale that mountain again?

Let's take a look.

The acquisition of Fremantle forward Lachie Schultz to the side immediately improves them in the front half.

With a straight swap for Jack Ginnivan (Hawthorn), the pressure forward brings experience and tenacity to a forward line that already consists of Norm Smith medallist Bobby Hill and Beau McCreery.

The defensive unit looks as strong as ever, with Isaac Quaynor taking big leaps toward stardom - if he hasn't already - and joining the leadership group in a show of faith by his teammates.

There's plenty that can be said about Nick Daicos but his career is accelerating in an upward trajectory, hence why he's a clear favourite to take home 'Charlie' come year's end.

Not to mention the list of stars that have shown over the pre-season that they are ready to do it all again.

Jordan De Goey is chomping at the bit whilst his captain hasn't looked better before.

Jack Crisp continues to be grossly underrated while McRae believes Will Hoskin-Elliott and Patrick Lipinski have had their best summers to date.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 27: Lachie Schultz of the Magpies trains during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at Gosch's Paddock on November 27, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

And if that doesn't excite you, there's an array of young talent who are forcing their way into the senior side, making spots for selection a difficult one for the coaching staff.

Finlay Macrae and Reef McInnes are two that immediately spring to mind, who have upped their standards and are pushing those around them to limits they haven't fathomed.

Ash Johnson is coming along nicely while John Noble, Josh Carmichael, Charlie Dean and Edward Allan have all staked claims that they are ready when called upon.

Pretty scary proposition for the rest of the competition.

However, what goes up, must come down.

Despite Collingwood's reasons for winning consecutive premierships for the first time since 1936, plenty is working against them.

The ACL injury to Daniel McStay has him almost ruled out for the entire season, opening up a vacancy on-field that ideally wouldn't be there.

In 2023, the Pies became one of the oldest premiership sides to win a flag, sitting at a staggering 27 years and 243 days old.

The black and white side fielded eight players over 30, including club legends Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom.

And with another year under their belt, age is more likely to become a factor.

History would also suggest that since 2008, the oldest side the year prior is unlikely to make the finals next year, let alone challenge for a premiership.

Making matters worse for Pies fans, Geelong's 2011 and 2022 yielded premierships despite being the most experienced side, and netted disappointing returns the following seasons.

So where does that leave us?

Well if you're a Collingwood fan, you have every reason to believe that consecutive flags aren't too farfetched.

But there is cause for concern heading into the 2024 season and we know how fortunate the Pies have been across the past 24 months.

Will it be another fairytale? Or will their luck run out?

Only time will tell.