Former Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough believes both he and Burton have improved during their seven years apart.
Clough admitted it was an emotional reunion at his press conference as he faced the media as Burton boss for the first time since January 2009, replacing Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink following his departure for QPR.
Clough himself left the club in similar circumstances when he was poached by Derby after taking the Brewers from the Northern Premier League to the top of the fifth tier.
In the intervening years Burton, under Paul Peschisolido, Gary Rowett and Hasselbaink, have won two promotions and currently sit top of Sky Bet League One - the highest position in the club's 65-year history - while Clough has managed in the Championship and most recently at Sheffield United who he guided to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, League Cup and League One play-offs in just under two years in charge.
Clough is not surprised by Burton's progress and he plans to carry on the good work of his predecessors.
"So much has changed," said the 49-year-old, who was the club's manager for over a decade during his first spell.
"It is quite emotional to be back, I never thought this would happen. But it is just the way things have worked out and it is the set of circumstances that we are in. It must be one of the first times since we last left that a manager has had the chance to take over a club at the top of the league.
"The club has definitely moved on a lot and improved, but so have we as a management team and Andy Garner and Gary Crosby will be joining me again. We have a lot more experience now and that is a key asset.
"I'm not shocked by how Burton have done, they have been on an upward curve for some time. It can be held up as a beacon for how clubs should be run. You are allowed to manager here, and that is a massive plus.
"St George's Park is another big plus, access to one of the top facilities in the country can be a draw for new players.
"It makes it easier with so many familiar faces still here but the club has moved on in seven years and we have to catch up with that."
Clough insists he will retain many of the things that have made Burton as success so far this season.
He said: "I want to try to continue the progression of the team.
"We want to keep things the same and keep things going as much as possible but we want to improve as well. We are not going to change much, we will work with the existing squad and see how we go. It is a continuation.
"The defensive record in particular is superb this season and something we have to concentrate on."
Burton are top of League One by two points and Clough will try to keep them there on Saturday when he takes charge of his first game away at fourth-placed Gillingham.