Mark Hughes is confident Southampton are in a better place now than they were last time they walked out at St Mary’s on the final day of last season.
Saints continue to ramp up their preparations for the new Premier League campaign when they host Celta Vigo tonight (7.45pm).
Hughes says “sharpness and quickness of thought” are the key traits he wants to see from his players against Spanish opponents whose season starts a week later.
“It seems a long time ago that we were lining up on the last day of last season against Man City and a lot of things have happened since – for the good, we’d like to think,” Hughes said.
“We’ve had a decent number of weeks in terms of preparation, so we’re ready to go in front of our own fans.
“I think I’m right in saying they’re a little bit behind us in terms of their preparation because I think their league starts after ours, but Spanish teams will always test you – they’ve always got good technical players and a good understanding of the game tactically.
“It’ll be a good level of opposition for us at this stage of pre-season.
“Against Derby we were lacking in sharpness and speed of thought, so they were in a similar situation that we may find ourselves in against Celta Vigo.
“In the last couple of weeks that’s been the focus for us – sharpening everything up. Fitness-wise we’re ok, but we just need that sharpness and quickness of thought.
“We’re getting a good amount of minutes into everybody now. The next couple of games will give me a good idea in terms of how we’ll actually line up against Burnley in terms of personnel, but I won’t show all my hand.”