McLaren projected a message of humility and determination to improve as they unveiled their new Formula 1 car.
The team had the second slowest car for much of last season but finished sixth in the championship, largely thanks to the efforts of Fernando Alonso.
The Spanish two-time champion has left F1 and McLaren have a new driver line-up of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
"We're in a rebuild process and it's going to be a journey," said boss Zak Brown.
"Last year we were a bit over-excited about how quickly we would return to the front. We looked at what went wrong and made a lot of changes, so this is a very important year to show forward progress."
Sainz, who joins from Renault, said the team were resisting the temptation to set performance goals before getting a handle on their new car at pre-season testing in Spain next week.
"It would be a big mistake to set ourselves goals at this point, we have set our goals to be better prepared," the 24-year-old said. "Hopefully that paid off. You can see everyone is excited and has put a lot of hard work into it. Now we have to go testing and see where the car is.
"I feel very prepared for the season, The car is ready. We could go testing today if we wanted, which is a good step in preparation and now it is time to try and keep improving all the season."
Briton Norris, 18, is embarking on his first season of F1 with a reputation as being one of the most promising young talents in motorsport.
"I have a lot to live up to," he said. "There is a lot on my shoulders, a lot of people relying on me. But I will try make it a positive effect.
"For me, it was a very different winter to the past. A lot of different preparation, not just physically, which is a huge part and very different, but mentally it is a whole new level.
"I have been doing an awful lot to make sure I'm ready for Barcelona and [the first race in] Australia.
"It's every driver's aim to beat their team-mate but if we want to get back to winning races and championships, the key is to work together."
The car, called the MCL34, features innovative aerodynamic features in the area in front of the sidepods beside the driver, and narrow rear bodywork that appears to owe a lot to Red Bull's design.
Sporting director Gil De Ferran, the former Indycar champion who joined the team last summer, said: "The feeling within the team is incredible. There is a lot of excitement and anticipation.
"If I cast my mind back six months to when I joined the team and being in the trenches and now seeing the car in its full glory is an incredible feeling. It is a beautiful piece of art. It depicts very well all the capabilities McLaren has in terms of craftsmanship and engineering.
"The way we tackled it was to recognise all the challenges we had and to continue to do that, and the way to do that is to focus on the job at hand.
"We focused a lot on our preparations towards this year, so I think we're ready.
"We set a schedule of what we needed to accomplish by when and that goes forward a few years into the future.
"The key point is we have tried to come together as a team to collaborate better and to meet every challenge we had in the programme - and there are a lot. We are excited to see the car hit the track and there is the feeling of anticipation.
"The key thing is to be humble, focus on the job in front of you, and things will take care of themselves."
McLaren have two new senior management figures joining in the near future.
German Andreas Seidl, the former Porsche world endurance racing boss who will oversee the F1 operation under chief executive officer Brown, joins on 1 May.
A start date for new technical director James Key, who joins from Toro Rosso, has not yet been released, although he is expected to join around the end of March.