Seventeen days ago, as Sheffield United prepared to embark upon their latest pre-season campaign, Nigel Adkins insisted that achieving positive results was not his chief concern.
Rather, the League One club’s manager explained, matches against the likes of Ilkeston, Newcastle and Macclesfield Town should be viewed as a learning experience.
Unless they are about to adopt a completely different approach during Saturday’s visit to Gillingham and beyond, the indications are that United will try and blaze a trail into the ChampionshipJames Shield
An opportunity for 50-year-old to analyse the options at his disposal after replacing Nigel Clough. A chance to experiment with different tactics and positional permeatations safe in the knowledge that, no matter what the outcome, League One points would not be risked.
Nevertheless, with the draw against Hull City leaving United with a record of P6 W4 D2 L0 from their summer friendly schedule, Adkins departed Bramall Lane sporting a satisfied grin.
Yes, football is littered with stories about teams who have swept all and sundry aside in warm-up competition only to crash and burn when the serious stuff began.
But only a fool would argue that a series of defeats represents better preparation for a potential promotion challenge than, say, some morale-boosting wins.
Adkins basically admitted as much earlier this week when, attending the launch of United’s new away strip, he referenced the “positivity” and “feelgood factor” at Bramall Lane as a sign that, injuries to Matt Done and Jamal Campbell-Ryce apart, they are in rude health.
Of course, tougher challenges await than the one presented by Steve Bruce’s charges who, as he acknowledged, are not firing on all cylinders yet.
United’s new regime, which also includes Andy Crosby and Dean Wilkins, are right to remind that inventive displays and attack-minded performances at this stage count for nothing unless translated over the course of the next 46 games.
But, unless they are about to adopt a completely different approach during Saturday’s visit to Gillingham and beyond, the indications are that United will try and blaze a trail into the Championship.
Be proactive rather than reactive. Attempt to stamp their authority on a division containing some talented squads but very few big names.
Which bodes well for the future and should ensure, after being accused of lacking flamboyance last term, they take their supporters with them too.