The fate of an entire season may come down to one single, solitary test. A chemistry test.
UK women's coach Matthew Mitchell is convinced his Cats need to pass this test to help the program reach new heights.
Last season's team aced its exam.
"We had some very selfless players last year that were happy to do whatever it took to win," Mitchell said.
And win they did. The Cats had a school-record 28 victories. They finished second in the Southeastern Conference and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight by knocking off a top seed.
They had an SEC Coach of the Year (Mitchell), an SEC Player of the Year (Victoria Dunlap) and an SEC Freshman of the Year (A'dia Mathies).
To achieve everything they did last season, Kentucky's players had to put in a lot of work. There were the endless defensive drills, the long sessions of studying film and the grinding, physical practices.
"There's a very, very high price tag on what we're trying to end up with, and they have to pay that every single day," Mitchell said.There's more than just the physical part.
"It's giving up every individual motivation you have, every piece of desire for a certain point average or minute average," he said. "You have to give all that up."
Last year's team was willing to do all of those things.
Seven members of that team are back, including Dunlap and Mathies. Four of five starters return if you include senior point guard Amber Smith, who will try to return late this season from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
A big part of passing this chemistry test will be finding a way to help six newcomers get in on the group project.
Five of those newcomers are in a recruiting class that was rated among the nation's top 10, and includes the women's program's first McDonald's All-American in point guard Jennifer O'Neill.
A sixth newcomer isn't so new in redshirt freshman guard Bernisha Pinkett, who arrived at UK in January.
"There is potential that we could build an even faster, quicker, more athletic team" than last year, Mitchell said. "I think we have a little more talent this year, but I'm not sure how much that is worth if they don't become a team."
The potential is there for something special, the returning players said.
"We will be even better than last year," Mathies said. "We've got quicker guards, stronger guards and more athletic guards. ... Our posts are even more mobile."
A daily process
There will be no last-minute, late-night cram sessions for UK to pass its chemistry test.
"Team-building won't be a weekend seminar," Mitchell explained, "it will be a daily process."
The players said they're willing to put in the work if it means getting back to the SEC championship game and another possible deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
"Our motivation is to play as hard as we played last year every single game, to make it consistent and to make it clear to everyone that the Elite Eight wasn't a fluke for us," Dunlap said. "It's going to continue for a long time."
UK had a season of firsts last year: the first time the program won 28 games; the first time it got 11 SEC victories in a season; the first time it advanced so deep in the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't know how many firsts we can have," Dunlap said, "but I'm sure there are some new ones we can pull out somewhere."
Mathies smiled, adding quietly but confidently: "Records are only there to be broken."
But the players know they can't do it alone.
Dunlap may be up for every individual national pre-season honor. She may have been tabbed by the media as the SEC pre-season player of the year recently, but she seems more interested in discussing team goals.
"First an SEC championship, then a national championship," the forward said.
Mitchell doesn't believe that's just talk from this group.
But he knows it's got a lot of work to do to get there.
"We need to be the tightest and closest team in the country if we want to do any of these things," he said. "We better really love each other and care for each other and be willing to fight for each other."
Junior guard Keyla Snowden thinks it's only a matter of time.
When asked what she likes best about this year's team, she was quick to answer.
"I like the chemistry I know we're going to have," she said. "When people see that out on the court, it's going to be something special to watch."