David Vaughan claims the mood in the Sunderland camp has lifted following Martin O'Neill's arrival as successor to the ousted Steve Bruce.
The Black Cats opted for a managerial shake-up after seeing a disastrous slump leave them precariously perched just above the Premier League relegation zone.
Former Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa boss O'Neill was drafted in to help steady the ship, and he enjoyed a dream start to his Stadium of Light reign on Sunday.
Sunderland left it late to see off fellow strugglers Blackburn, but a 2-1 victory has helped to raise spirits on Wearside.
Vaughan was on target in the win over Rovers and he credits O'Neill with instilling the confidence in the players that enabled them to grind out a much-needed result.
He said: "It felt different out there. The new manager came in and has given us some belief again.
"He wants us to go out there and express ourselves a bit and try to enjoy playing football. That helped, especially in the second half when we created a couple of chances and took a few.
"The last week with the new manager has been good. Training has been good. We have been having shorter, sharper sessions. We have had more tempo in the sessions and it has just been aimed at trying to get everyone enjoying their football again.
"He's not changed a great deal. He has been very supportive and has been telling us all what he wants from us.
"He believes in the players he has got and he has given us self-belief and confidence.
"First impressions have been good. He seems to be fair with everyone. He's been approachable and seems to be someone who you want to play for.
"Sometimes it can be difficult when a new manager comes in because you are not sure which players he wants to have in his team or what his ideas will be. But he has put his marker down on the team and it's up to the players now."
While victory over Blackburn has helped to raise morale, Vaughan admits it is vital for Sunderland to build on that success over what looks like being a testing run of games over the festive period.
"We can't just rest on our laurels and we have to keep going, particularly at home, and climb the table up to where we want to be," he said.
"Tottenham away (on Sunday) is not going to be easy. We should have greater confidence now, which is why it was important for us to beat Blackburn before we went to Tottenham."