Forres Mechanics manager Charlie Rowley hopes the Can-Cans can keep punching above their weight this season.
The Mosset Park men followed up a fifth-place finish in 2018 by coming sixth last term and Rowley is optimistic ahead of the new campaign.
He said: “We have established ourselves as a top six side over the last two seasons.
“Some people may say that we’ve been punching above our weight and if you consider the financial aspect of our club compared with some others at the top of the table then they’re probably right.
“We certainly have the quality but perhaps we lack the strength in depth that the clubs with financial clout possess.
“That more than anything else that has been our downfall over the last couple of seasons, and I don’t mean that in a negative way.
“We’ve found ourselves in a similar situation year-after-year when we find ourselves up against clubs with more financial clout than we can muster.
“But we keep ploughing on.
“It’s now all about getting one or two more in to try to take us a step further.”
Rowley says his star striker Lee Fraser’s recovery from a cruciate ligament injury will not be rushed.
He said: “The indications from the physiotherapists and doctors are Lee may be able to take part in a full 90 minutes in October.
“Having Lee back will be like a new signing for us but there are obviously a few miles to cover before that dream becomes a reality.
“Hopefully that prediction comes true and we can have him available from October.
“Lee is one of the most feared strikers in the whole of the Highland League, and when you add in Stuart Soane and Andrew Macrae’s 25 goals apiece into the equation, it certainly won’t hinder our aspirations.
“Now that Cove Rangers have moved up to the SPFL, it will open up the title race for every other challenger this term.”
- Ground: Mosset Park
- Colours: Chocolate and gold hoops
- Honours: Highland League champions 1985-86, 2011-12; Scottish Qualifying Cup 1963-64; Highland League Cup 1946-47, 1954-55, 1984-85, 1998-99, 2000-01, 2001-02,
2009-10; North of Scotland Cup 1907-08, 1926-27, 1936-37, 1957-58, 1966-67, 1986-87, 2004-05, 2010-11; Inverness Cup 1985-86, 1989-90, 2005-06
Manager: Charlie Rowley
- Season 18-19: Finished 6th
Forres Mechanics attacking midfielder Robbie Duncanson has taken over the role of set-piece specialist from team-mate Simon Allan.
The Nairn County forward said: “Simon was out injured last season and I got the chance to take our free-kicks. It was changed days from my time at Nairn when I never got the chance as Conor Gethins was always first to the ball.
“In our home win over Buckie Thistle last season I scored a hat-trick of free-kicks, which was amazing.
“I have the footage of the second two but unfortunately the cameraman missed the best one of the three, the first from 30 yards out.
“We’ve always been known as a bit of a back-to-front kind of side but towards the second half of last season we actually started to play a wee bit and cut teams open.”
The 34-year-old is loving life at Mosset Park and believes the team spirit has helped the club secure successive top six finishes.
He added: “Forres is a great club and the players are different class. It’s a throw-back to my days at Nairn when all the guys had a good laugh together, on and off the pitch.
“On the pitch we take it extremely seriously as we want to improve on last season’s sixth place.
“We have a good mixture of experience and youth, including the back-to-back Highland League young player of the year, Andrew Macrae.”