Recent signing Liam Smith believes being the exception rather than the rule at Tannadice this summer will give Dundee United a definite advantage in the Championship season.
While arrivals at other clubs have run close to double figures, along with Adrian Sporle and Lawrence Shankland, the former Ayr man is one of only three new boys at the Tangerines who are likely to be regular starters.
From past experience, the 23-year-old believes that level of continuity has to be a plus.
“In my time at Hearts every pre-season you came in and you were basically introducing yourself to a whole new squad,” he said.
“When it’s like that it does take a while for everyone to gel together, so coming into a squad where the majority of players have been together and you see that relationships have developed is definitely easier.
“The boys here are pretty much as one and you are just trying to add your bit to that. For me, I have two vastly-experienced centre-backs who’ve been playing together since January right beside me and that’s been a help as I settle in and blend in smoothly.”
While he’s new to United, Smith came in fresh from an impressive season in the second tier with shock troops Ayr United.
So, although he views tomorrow’s opener against Inverness Caley Thistle as a big game, he’s well aware every single fixture over the next nine months will be significant.
Smith added: “This is a massive game. Inverness are a good side and they will be looking for promotion as well.
“They did well last year and John Robertson has got them playing a good way. They are a difficult side to play against and they will come with a plan to stop us.
“They will want to get off to a good start as well but it’s vital for us to hit the ground running.
“The first game is big regardless of who you are playing but when you know the importance of a game against a team who could potentially be competing against you it does add a little bit more.
“But it’s a competitive league and every week you are facing a different challenge, so there’s never an easy game.
“We know that and we know teams will be coming to Tannadice to beat us and take a scalp.
“We’ve got to be ready for that and for everything that comes up against us.
“That’s the mentality you have to have. You have to be ready for every game, you can’t just get up for the so-called big games and then slack off against the so-called lesser teams.
“You have to treat everyone the same, look to do well on a Saturday and then take that into the next game.”
Smith believes the Terrors are ready to do that, both physically and mentally. Last season ended on a huge downer in the shape of play-off final defeat at St Mirren but any lingering pain from that has been turned into a positive.
“I think deep down boys will still be hurting, as will the fans, but if they can use that in a positive way and use it to drive us on and make sure it doesn’t happen again it’s OK,” added Smith.
“First and foremost the plan is to get automatic promotion this season and that starts on Saturday to get off to a winning start.
“Before I came here I knew what Robbie was like as a manager and he likes his teams to be fit and pressing.
“I think pre-season has gone well in that way, we’ve not had many injuries and we are ready to go.
“Obviously, it’s a disappointment that we didn’t get through the cup but I think pre-season as a whole has gone well.”