KILDARE manager Kieran McGeeney has described 2013 as a "very big year" for the Lilywhites - but warned supporters to be patient as he revamps his squad in the quest for that elusive winning formula at the business end of the championship.
Five summers running, McGeeney had led his adopted county to the All-Ireland quarter-finals but only once have they surmounted that hurdle, culminating in last year's last-eight collapse to Cork.
Now, speaking ahead of Saturday night's O'Byrne Cup final against Dublin, the Armagh All-Ireland winner declared: "Look at the next three weeks, we're playing the last three All-Ireland champions three weeks in-a-row. Then you get a break and you're playing Kerry.
"That's fantastic because it's at this level that we tend to slip up. We can learn more about ourselves in this company. But people have to realise that it's the high end of the market we're in now. You can't make those mistakes over and over again and live with these people."
He then warned: "This year may not be as lucrative as people want, but it's important that a new type of player comes together in Kildare to make sure that when we get to those positions again, we try not to make the same mistakes. Because if you are making the same mistakes over and over again, you have to really look at yourself.
"Yes, there are good arguments there that we haven't got a run of luck but there are also arguments there that we shouldn't have needed luck in a lot of those circumstances."
Looking back to last season, when Kildare suffered deflating championship defeats to Meath and Cork, McGeeney claimed it was "probably our best year, performance-wise".
Yet it was also a year when Seánie Johnston's divisive transfer saga and the county board's unravelling financial plight hogged the headlines.
"There were a lot of things going on off the pitch that didn't help," their manager claimed. "Some of what was written was based on very few facts, whether it was financial or the Seánie issue. Nobody likes to get to the real story but that is part and parcel of sport and life.
"It's whatever makes a story. Don't get me wrong. It's not a case of 'poor me' or anything like that, but it's a lot easier to deal with positive situations than it is to deal with negative situations."