Cork needed an injection of youth and energy this spring. How many graduate to championship remains to be seen but with the nasty volume of injuries, a host of rookies were auditioned across the league.
Tommy O'Connell and Eoin Downey, even if he's suspended for now for the first round in Munster, are certainties to feature in the defence. Downey was always earmarked for the top due to his combination of size and skill but O'Connell's development into a tenacious inter-county wing-back has been a real bonus. Both of them have the cutting required.
Brian Roche has been consistent as a link-man and worker at midfield while Pádraig Power finished with 2-6 from play after three league starts.
Conor O'Callaghan and Eoin Roche are viable corner-back options as well and Ethan Twomey could see action in the middle third off the bench. That's a good haul of new recruits.
The caveat to this is the league semi-final display in Nowlan Park was obviously very disappointing. Yet even against Kilkenny, Cork kept plugging away when they were a man down and going poorly.
Before then, Pat Ryan and his selectors would have been delighted with the attitude shown by the Rebels in the preseason and league proper. They beat Tipp, in the Munster Hurling League final, Limerick and Wexford after battening down the hatches and finishing strongly in the last quarter.
3. Break to championship: By concluding the league with a loss, Cork avoided what would have been a daunting final with Limerick and gained a five-week run-in before hosting the Déise.
The Rebels don't play the first round of the Munster round-robin, so have the time now to rehab the wounded soldiers while duking it out on the training ground for starting places.
1. Injuries: All-Star wing-back Mark Coleman is out for the provincial series while dynamic midfielder Darragh Fitzgibbon and inside forward Alan Connolly, who showed a keen eye for goal last summer, haven't seen action yet in 2023. Robbie O'Flynn is recovering from the ankle injury that saw him stretchered off two months ago and Sean O'Donoghue is the same from a dead leg that has been extremely slow to heal.
Seamus Harnedy was deadly up in Ennis, firing 1-3, only to tweak his hamstring and Patrick Horgan and Tim O'Mahony have missed chunks of the year to date as well. Cork might look to the new recruits to freshen up the team but they'll need the core of the veterans to compete.
Cork were outmuscled running the sliotar, struggled to make it stick up top and hurled too laterally against Kilkenny and at times in the Wexford win. Even though they were short some marquee men, those recurring failings are a real concern.
Limerick are miles clear of the chasing pack but it's very difficult to separate the other four counties, which will leave two bitterly deflated when they're eliminated by the end of May.
Cork have Waterford and Tipp at home on April 30 and May 6 and probably can't afford anything less than a pair of wins.