Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin has urged his team-mates to replicate last season’s success.
David Jeffrey’s men welcome Crusaders to The Showgrounds on the opening day of the season, before travelling to Carrick Rangers on Tuesday.
The Braidmen finish the month with Glenavon at home and a trip to Windsor Park to face league champions Linfield.
Ervin – who spent almost a decade at Linfield – admits it’s a tough opening set of fixtures but believes his side will look forward to the challenge.
“No matter who you play in the opening month it’s tough as teams have strengthened in the transfer window,” Ervin said. “I believe you can only gauge how teams are performing after the first round of fixtures.
“We played Crusaders at Seaview on the opening day last season and were heavily beaten, but we will be looking forward to it on August 12.”
Ballymena’s fourth-place position last season was the first time the Sky Blues have finished in the top six and Ervin has called for more consistency on Warden Street.
“It is important that we are consistent next season,” Ervin revealed. “We should aim for the top six again as people will be thinking we are one-season wonders and it is up to us as a team to prove people wrong.
“We are also the League Cup holders so we will aim to retain that and have a good go in the Irish Cup.
“The league is the bread-and-butter competition and we will be ready for that.”