The most noticeable difference to Sheffield United’s pre-season preparations this summer is their focus on actually working with a ball.
Rather than challenge his squad to scale the peaks which surround the League One club’s training camp in Scotland, new manager David Weir prefers to combine science and fresh ideas with hard slog.
Richard Cresswell, United’s vastly experienced centre-forward, has encountered all sorts of different methods throughout a professional career spanning nearly two decades.
And, speaking ahead of tonight’s friendly at Raith Rovers, the former Leeds and Stoke City striker endorsed the change of approach.
“It’s tough but it’s much more enjoyable,” Cresswell told The Star. “I think this is something like my 19th or 20th pre-season and this one feels a lot different.
“There’s much more of a technical and scientific type of approach. The game moves on and the days of climbing up mountains and running up terraces are probably over now.
“But there’s no hiding place. What we are doing now is still really hard work.
“We’re strapped up with our heart monitors so people can see exactly how much you’re putting in.
“The gaffer has brought Adam (Owen) in as one of his assistants and he’s worked all over the world studying teams like AC Milan. So he’s seen different ways of doing things and he’s putting them to use here.
Cresswell is among several players previously on the periphery of United’s plans whose prospects have been revitalised by Weir’s appointment at Bramall Lane.
Having seen Chris Porter, another name seemingly destined for the exit door, score during last week’s outings against Greenock Morton and Cowdenbeath, Danny Wilson’s successor insisted he had arrived without “any preconceived ideas” before promising “everyone starts with a clean slate.”
The merits or otherwise of Weir’s approach will only begin the become evident when United return to competitive action against Notts County on August 2.
Cresswell, though, is adamant that his faith is not misplaced.
“I’ve got lots of friends within football and when I speak to mates at other clubs, it’s clear how quickly things are moving on,” he said. “When you think about it, doing what we are doing now makes perfect sense because our job involves working with a football so why not do that at this stage too?
“The new lads have come in and they’ve got clear ideas about how they want us to play and how fit they want us to be. He wants us to play from the back and is putting an extra man in midfield - like a traditional number 10 - to help that.”
“It’s just a different way of doing things and I’m sure we’re going to get the benefits of that.”
Cresswell, aged 35, hopes Weir’s presence will offer him a route back into United’s plans next term after he moved to York City towards the end of the previous campaign.
An injury sustained during that loan spell at Bootham Crescent prevented him from taking part in United’s ill-fated play-off semi-final with York but Cresswell said: “I’ve always tried to look after myself and I like to think that I’m reaping the benefits of that now.
“They say every single pre-season gets harder and but I’m keeping up with the young lads when we do go for a run and things like that. I feel fit and in good shape.”