Richmond and Carlton could unveil big-name recruits Tom Lynch and Mitch McGovern on the first night of the 2019 AFL opening round, with those clubs again kicking off the new season.
They met in a Thursday night blockbuster at the MCG in 10 of the past 11 years in round one, including being the season opener in the last four and drawing an average crowd of 80,622.
The same venue and timeslot is locked in for the two teams on March 21, 2019.
The 2018 clash drew 90,151 fans as the Tigers unfurled their premiership flag, only to concede the first five goals then rally to win 17.19 (121) to 15.5 (95).
AFL general manager of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld told AFL.com.au the Blues were never going to be stripped of the fixture privilege despite their struggles in recent seasons.
But Auld hinted Carlton would make fewer appearances in the marquee Friday night timeslot.
"This particular slot stands alone," Auld said.
"It's averaged an 80,000 crowd for the last (four) years and last year's crowd was over 90,000 and a really good game – a high-scoring game – and rated really well in broadcast.
"We understand there was some feedback last year about Carlton, particularly Friday nights, and that will be addressed through the fixture.
"But certainly this game is a big game regardless of how the two teams are expected to perform and both have got some new, exciting players coming in."
Other highlights include new Bomber Dylan Shiel facing his old side Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium on the Sunday afternoon, and Collingwood and Geelong facing off at the MCG on the Friday night.
Western Bulldogs and Sydney, the 2016 Grand Final combatants, will play the first AFL match for premiership points since the Marvel Stadium rename in one of the two Saturday night games.
West Coast starts its premiership defence on the road against Brisbane at the Gabba in the other Saturday night contest.
Elsewhere, Melbourne and Port Adelaide will play each other in round one for the first time in six years at the MCG on the Saturday afternoon, while the Crows host Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval the same day.
St Kilda takes on Gold Coast in the early Sunday game as they both try to kickstart improved campaigns.
North Melbourne travels for the second straight season to meet Fremantle at Optus Stadium in the final match of the round.
Round one, 2019
Thursday, March 21
Carlton v Richmond at the MCG, 7.20pm AEDT
Friday, March 22
Collingwood v Geelong at the MCG, 7.50pm AEDT
Saturday, March 23
Melbourne v Port Adelaide at the MCG, 1.45pm AEDT
Adelaide v Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval, 4.05pm ACDT
Western Bulldogs v Sydney at Marvel Stadium, 7.25pm AEDT
Brisbane v West Coast at the Gabba, 7.20pm AEST
Sunday, March 24
St Kilda v Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium, 1.10pm AEDT
Greater Western Sydney v Essendon at Spotless Stadium, 3.20pm AEDT
Fremantle v North Melbourne, Optus Stadium, 3.20pm AWST