Now we start to get a feel for what this Bruins team is really made of.

On Monday the Bruins played their third game of the season, their third game since winning the Stanley Cup in Vancouver last June. They lost to Colorado, 1-0.

The rings have been handed out, the banner has been raised. The ceremonies are over, and the 2011 title run is officially a part of our collective memory.

No team has won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 14 years. The Bruins know it’s hard to repeat. And they’re not hiding from it.

“A year ago, we didn’t shy away from how we were knocked out by the Flyers,” said Cam Neely, the Bruins’ president and a Hockey Hall of Famer. “We’re not about to shy away from how hard it is to repeat. There’s a reason no one’s done it since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. It’s very hard to do.”

That’s because the Bruins will skate with a bull’s eye on their backs this season. They are the top gun in the hockey world, the team everyone else wants to beat.

Neely wants the team to embrace that fact, to understand that it’s a hard-earned honor to be the reigning champ.

If everyone else is going to bring their best when they play you, then you’d better bring your best each night.

Neely always brought his best as a player, and now he’s more determined than ever that the players who wear the sweater embody the blue-collar work ethic that has always been appreciated by Bruins fans.

This weekend, Neely was at a gathering of fans in one of the side rooms at the Garden. He was the guest of honor, but his presence was overshadowed by a collection of championship hardware.

The Cup was on hand, standing alongside trophies from the most recent titles won by the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics.

“Our fans work hard, and they expect us to work hard on the ice,” said Neely.

“They know we’re not going to win every game, but they want to see an honest effort from their team.”

A championship run highlights that effort. And last year the Bruins brought a long-dormant hockey town back to life.

Neely has adapted well to his new role in the front office, overseeing a team that has joined the other teams that have helped make Boston “Titletown.”

While he never won a championship during his injury-plagued playing career, Neely has enjoyed every moment of Lord Stanley’s long-awaited summer in New England.

He wears the diamond-encrusted championship ring well, though he admits he “doesn’t wear it that often.”

Like the championship itself, he’s ready to put it away and get back to the work at hand: keeping a good thing going.

“I’ve been saying it all along,” said Neely. “You get a taste of winning and it’s a pretty good taste. We’re still a young team, and we’re definitely not tired of winning yet.”

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.