Hartlepool United have packed the toys away and are sharpening the tools for the start of the National League programme.
Boss Craig Harrison has made no bones about the fact that Pools are one of the division’s favourites.
Yesterday, he began the final countdown to Saturday’s league opener against Dover by staging some team-building games at the training ground.
Players were split into different groups to tackle an assault course as well as a mental test and quiz.
But Harrison says the preparation will start in earnest today.
“The lads were in the gym at 9am yesterday doing a weights session, so they’ve not missed a day’s training, this was just a bit of fun,” said Harrison.
“Today and tomorrow we’ll be looking at the attacking side of things, with a bit of defensive work.
“Thursday will be a down day for the lads and Friday we’ll look at the final tactical bits, set-plays and so on as well as looking at what Dover will be bringing to the party and how to nullify their strengths and try to take advantage of any weaknesses.”
Harrison explained that Pools have had Dover watched and they will be clued up about their first opponents.
“We’ve heard from the guy who does my opposition analysis,” he said.
“He’s based in Essex, but he’s been up to meet the staff – he’s been someone I’ve used for a long time.
“He’s done Dover and Maidenhead so he’s been able to put a presentation together.
“We know where we are with both of them, but most of this week is about us.”
Harrison said beginning the week with yesterday’s activities in front of the media at the Racecourse Ground was a deliberate process, not just a PR exercise.
“It was good,” said the boss. “I like to get to know people, not just the lads on the pitch.
“If you want to get the most out of people you need to know their characters off the pitch.
“It makes people communicate with each other – makes people step up to take leadership roles.
“The players might have me, Jenks, Batesy, the coaching staff on the side helping them, but sometimes in the thick of battle you need to be intelligent enough to sort out a problem yourself.”
Harrison explained that while he is excited to lead the team in the first National League fixture, it’s just a small part of a very big picture.
“Saturday will be nice,” he said. “But it’s the beginning of a journey and it’s about getting three points. There is an end product, we know where we need to be.
“I know the points tally we ned, the games we need to win, the goals we need to score, the goals conceded, the draws and defeats we need to have to get to where we want to go. There is an end goal.
“Saturday will be the first day of that first step of getting towards that tally to where we need to be to get back into the Football League at the first time of asking.”