Kilkenny midfielder Conor Fogarty doesn't subscribe to the theory that the Cats are a spent force.
Championship defeats to Wexford and Waterford brought their championship campaign to a premature end this summer but the Erin's Own clubman believes they are still capable of mixing it with the best.
"There is talk out there (that Kilkenny have slipped back) but we don't really buy into it to be honest," he outlined to The Irish Independent.
"Waterford have always been a good team, we have come up against them a number of times in the last couple of years and we have been the other side of it and this year they pipped us and deservedly so.
"They went on and gave an excellent performance in the All-Ireland final and just came up short, so when you look at it like that there are five or six teams at least that there is very little between."
Brian Cody has been handed a 20th year at the helm and Fogarty added: "Brian has always shown savage determination and I couldn't see why this year would be any different.
"It's no surprise. He likes a challenge and no doubt he'll be up for the challenge again."