SYDNEY • Today, 192 of the world's best netballers will descend on Sydney's Olympic Park for 10 days of competition in the Netball World Cup with Australia, the defending champions, considered strong favourites. But nobody is writing off their competitors.
New Zealand, having lost nine matches in a row to Australia, are experimenting with some new players and a new playing style.
England are this year tipped by many to be Australia's greatest threat. Should they travel well and hold their nerve, they present a better side on paper than the Kiwis.
Jamaica again loom as a threat while Malawi and South Africa sit just outside the top echelon.
These countries join 10 other teams from around the world - Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. And each region will bring its own style of play and physicality to the party.
Many of the pool matches will present an interesting spectacle simply because of these contrasting styles.
African sides tend to play a steadier, slower game with plenty of bounce passes.
Singapore rely on their speed, the Caribbean teams use an aerial game while New Zealand and the Pacific teams go for zone defence.
England have something of a hybrid style, albeit with a fast midcourt and long-range shooters.
This is the result of having been influenced by coaches from all over the world in the last 20 years.
Australian netball has long been known for its speed and long-range shooting as well as a strict, one-on-one defensive game.
This traditional Australian style has proved the most successful in the world game. The Diamonds have taken 10 of the 13 Netball World Cups held.
This year, the tally could reach 11.
The former Australia coach and now head coach of South Africa, Norma Plummer, thinks Australia's defensive work and depth off the bench will see them retain the World Cup that she had helped them win in 2011.
"The defence end has been on fire," she told Guardian Australia.
"Julie Corletto, Laura Geitz and Sharni Layton have all been in great form all year. All in all, the Diamonds' defensive structure has been very good.
"The Australian side also has a great ability to interchange off the bench and I can't see them getting beat. That said, you never know what can happen on the day."