Sheffield United boss Kevin Blackwell believes his new-look side can improve on last season after seeing them secure a goalless draw in their season opener at Middlesbrough.
The home side dominated much of the game on Friday night but failed to create clear-cut chances, while the Blades managed to give Boro keeper Danny Coyne problems as they attacked on the break.
And, after giving five players their debuts in the match, Blackwell is confident that his squad can improve on last year's third-place finish in the Championship.
"I think as an away side, we were very positive, but it's going to be a difficult place to come to," he told Sky Sports 1.
"We looked, I thought, a lot stronger than we did last season.
"Unfortunately, one or two players haven't played as much as I'd like and, maybe if they can get that bit more sharpness, it'll certainly help us."
He added: "I think we looked more accomplished today.
"I'd still like to see us get on the ball more and pass it, but with the amount of youngsters we've got, there's a great energy in the team and I thought that showed today.
"We've got to ally that with a bit more craft and passing the ball in better areas and I'd like us to be a bit more clinical but, other than that, it was a great performance away from home."
Darius Henderson, who missed much of last season with injuries and is still carrying a thigh problem from last season's play-off semi-final, played through the entire match despite missing much of pre-season training.
The former Watford ace played a vital role as the visitors' target man in the match and Blackwell was delighted with his performance.
"I just said to him when he came off, 'you might as well not bother turning up at pre-season training if you're going to do that'," he said.
"He's worked his socks off on the training ground."