The new season in the Ebac Northern League gets on Saturday and Whitley Bay will begin with a home game against Consett.
Last season just one point separated the sides in the final table, with Whitley finishing tenth and the Steelmen 11th.
Bay had the better of the games between the sides, winning 2-0 at Hillheads and picking up a point in a 2-2 draw in County Durham.
With a much more settled squad than in recent seasons, there is a feeling of optimism at Hillheads with the Seahorses hoping for a strong start to the new campaign.
Player-manager Leon Ryan, beginning his first full season in charge at Hillheads, is expecting his side to be challenging for honours.
Four players have been added to the squad in the summer – striker Peter Watling, midfielders Robbie Bird and Marc Ellison, and defender Michael Laws.
All will be in contention for starting places in Saturday’s line-up, but Ryan himself will be missing through suspension while fellow defender Chris Reid is also out after picking up a nasty foot injury in the pre-season game against Atherton Collieries last week.
Before Saturday’s game, Whitley Bay Supporters’ Club will be officially opening their new club shop inside the ground.
The early season fixture list includes a series of midweek games and on Wednesday evening (August 13) Whitley travel into Northumberland to Welfare Park for a local derby against Bedlington Terriers.