Glentoran Women's manager Billy Clarke is warning that just one defeat could cost a team the title when the Danske Bank Women's Premiership campaign kicks off at the end of the month.
The Glens were unstoppable in the cup competitions in 2019, winning the County Antrim Challenge Cup, Premiership League Cup and Irish Cup, but a slump in league form after the halfway stage of the season saw them drop out of a challenging position.
The fixtures for the 2020 season, which starts on Wednesday, August 26, were released yesterday. The Glens were handed a tough start away to Cliftonville Ladies before a Big Two clash with defending champions Linfield Ladies, and Clarke fears any team that struggles early on could be out of the running within a matter of weeks.
"With a shortened season, only 10 games, it'll make things more difficult," said Clarke.
"If you lose a match, you're chasing the pack and you can't afford to lose anything early on.
"We've been in it before when it was like that, when ourselves and Crusaders were the kingpins, and we knew what it was like then to lose a match. The league was nearly over if that happened and it's going to be tight."
Linfield start their quest for a fifth title in a row at home to Crusaders Strikers, while the two north west teams, Derry City Women and Sion Swifts Ladies, meet in a derby at the Brandywell.