Michael Woods believes Matthew Bates' defensive expertise has transformed Pools from a National League soft touch, to one of the hardest teams to beat at this level.
Hartlepool were held on home turf by Barrow on Tuesday night but the result ensured the side have lost just once in their opening NINE fifth tier fixtures.
And much of that is down to Bates and his experience as a defender at the highest level.
"He has got that base as a defender," said Woods of his manager.
"The first couple of weeks were all about building from a solid shape. Get the back door sorted, but then in the final third have a freedom to express ourselves.
"I think when you are creating chances you have a base to build on. When you are not the pressure builds and the back three becomes a five and we drop off. That's the danger.
"Now we have the impetus in the final third and that does not happen."
Woods was Pools' top-scorer last season with 11 goals, in 40 games. It was his most successful season in front of goal as a professional, but for the player that mattered little.
"Scoring goals last season but being half way down the table didn’t mean anything," said Woods.
"It is good this time to be contributing and scoring and it actually has a meaning.
"I do feel like, as a team, we are creating more chances. That helps."