Published Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Rumours of retirements were rife and the time and those were substantiated when all Ireland winners like Brian Dooher, Brian McGuigan, Phip Gourley, Philip Jordan and Kevin Hughes all decided to hang up their boots.
But Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is a shrewd operator and he has used the Power NI Dr. McKenna Cup campaign and the start of the Allianz National League to roll out the conveyor belt of talent from within the county.
Harte has used a rotation policy employed in other sports, most notably rugby, to blood and then withdraw certain players - and there are still quite a few waiting in the wings.
Sean Cavanagh, for example, is just back from a lengthy injury lay off and was introduced as a second half sub in Sunday's emphatic league win over Derry.
Conor Gormley, Davy Harte and Ryan McMenamin are others who have yet to start a match in the current campaign.
Add players of the calibre of Justin and Joe McMahon, who also came on on Sunday and other less experienced players like 2010 Minor Championship winner Ronan O'Neill and the likes of Niall McKenna, Michael O'Neill and Kyle Coney and you'll conclude that Tyrone have a nice blend of youth and experience.
And, speaking of the latter, don't forget the mercurial Stephen O'Neill - Harte's captain this season - is still a class act as his glorious point just before half time at Healy Park on Sunday proved.
Harte will, of course, urge caution at this relatively early stage of the season with promotion back to Division One of the National League the short-term priority.
But seven wins on the trot suggest Tyrone should not be underestimated when the stakes become higher in the summer.
The manner of Sunday's success, the proverbial walk in the park if ever there was one, will have sent a few warning sounds around the country.
It would be remiss not to mention Armagh's equally impressive early league form - a draw with former all Ireland champions Cork and a win over Kerry were no mean achievemants.
Paddy O'Rourke has, of course, been without the services of the Crossmaglen contingent along with Stevie McDonnell and long term injury victim Ronan Clarke putting their early results into an even more positive context.
Down's form has been up and down with an impressive opening win over Donegal being followed by a heavy defeat in Cork.
In the lower divisions Fermanagh, under new manager Peter Canavan, will be out to make it two wins on the bounce whe they travel to London this weekend as they bid to erase the bitter memory of last year's shock all Ireland defeat in Ruislip.
Antrim have also made a good start with opening wins over Sligo and Tipperary in their bid to get straight back into Division Two.
It's too early to look too far into the crystal ball at this stage but, one thing's for sure, it's already shaping up to be quite an Ulster Championship.