For 10th year in a row, the question is once again: can anyone stop Johor Darul Ta'zim in the Malaysia Super League?

Arif Aiman and Johor Darul Ta'zim will be gunning for a staggering 10th consecutive title in the 2023 Malaysia Super League season. Johor Darul Ta'zim FC

Johor Darul Ta'zim have been the number one team in Malaysian football since they won their first Super League title back in 2013.

There can be no denying that, not when they have gone on to secure nine league triumphs on the trot since then.

But ahead the new season, which gets underway on Friday, a 10th consecutive crown would see them reach a next level of domination.

It is a feat that Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich only achieved last season. Even Juventus could manage only nine consecutive Serie A crowns between 2011 and 2020 while -- for all their recent dominance in Ligue 1 -- the most number of consecutive title triumphs Paris Saint-Germain have managed is four.

And having been crowned champions last season with a comfortable 12-point buffer between them and their closest challengers - along with victories in the Malaysia Cup and FA Cup for their first-ever treble -- it is rather frightening to think they have only gotten stronger.

Continuing to boast a whole host of Malaysia internationals from the wily and experienced Natxo Insa to the young and exciting Arif Aiman, JDT benefitted hugely from having two potent threats up forward last term in Bergson da Silva and Fernando Forestieri -- who combined for 42 goals in the league alone.

If those two were not already going to strike fear in every opposition defence this season, JDT have added another dimension to their now three-pronged attack in the form of returning fan favourite Diogo, who has returned to Sultan Ibrahim Stadium after a spell in the Thai League 1 with BG Pathum United.

Even with new coach Esteban Solari at the helm after his predecessor Hector Bidoglio was reassigned as the club's technical director, it is difficult at present to see anyone really posing a threat to the Southern Tigers even with the expansion of the MSL in 2023.

While original plans were to increase the number of teams to 18 in a revamp of the Malaysian football competition structure, which was to come hand in hand with the dissolution of the second-tier Premier League, the disqualification of Melaka United and Sarawak United due to their failure to meet the competition's licensing regulations and the withdrawals of Petaling Jaya City and UiTM FC means the size of the competition has only increased by two teams.

From the 13 other competitors, Terengganu look the likeliest to give JDT a run for their money if they can continue the momentum they gathered at the end of last year -- where they won 14 of their last 16 outings in all competition to surge to a runners-up finish in the league and make the semifinals of the Malaysia Cup.

Like JDT, the Turtles will have a new face leading them in the dugout in Croat Timoslav Steinbruckner, who has wasted no time in ushering in compatriots Domagoj Pusic and Ivan Mamut as two of the team's foreign imports.

Mamut, a 1.92 metre striker, should offer Terengganu a real presence alongside an equally-intriguing off-season arrival in Adisak Kraisorn, a seasoned Thailand international with three AFF Championship titles to his name who is plying his trade abroad for the first time in his career.

Previously-unfancied Sabah are also among the teams that will be looking to back up an impressive campaign last time out as they surged to a third-place finish just three years after being promoted back to the top flight.

With the experienced Ong Kim Swee having assembled quite the formidable squad headlined by stalwarts Baddrol Bakhtiar and Khairul Fahmi, Sabah are primed to take another step forward in 2023 with the team now enjoying continuity and consistency.

Elsewhere, the likes of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur City and Kedah Darul Aman all have the potential to rise up the table, while Negeri Sembilan could also cause a stir again having finished a remarkable fourth last season fresh off promotion.

Other storylines that will be worth keeping a close eye on include Sri Pahang's appointment of Fandi Ahmad as their new coach -- with the Singapore icon having previously tasted much success on Malaysian soil as a player and who is returning to a management role after a three-year hiatus, as well as the top-flight return of Kelantan FC -- two-time MSL champions and the competition's dominant force from 2010-12, who suffered a fall from grace and had to endure playing second-tier football for the past four seasons.

Still, all of those will be subplots to the main narrative that will always be the actual competition itself.

Before a ball is even kicked, JDT are once again in prime position to go all the way and claim a 10th straight MSL crown.

Whether or not they can be stopped is once again the question.