Csaba Laszlo has revealed it was as far back as January that he first feared the squad he had at Dundee United would not be good enough to win promotion.
And while he clung to the hope his team would lift itself to go up via the play-offs, he’s admitted their post-season games failure came as no surprise.
That why, along with chief scout Paul Sturrock, he’s been masterminding an overhaul of the squad this summer.
It’s seen 19 departures, eight new arrivals so far and changes to the backroom staff that are set to continue.
Although he had high hopes of winning promotion when he arrived in November, they were dashed by a post-Christmas slump that saw the Tangerines finish a distant third in the Championship.
They then fell to Livingston in the play-off semi-final.
“I realised in January, when we didn’t move how we wished to, it was clear that it (promotion) would be very difficult,” said Laszlo.
“I was still really sad that over the play-offs we did not do better.
“I thought there was a possibility to reach the final, not because it was Dunfermline and Livingston we were playing, but because I felt the team understood we had to move forward, but it did not happen.”
And but for the arrival of Bilel Mohsni and Anthony Ralston on their short-term deals near the end of the season, Laszlo accepts even the play-offs would have been beyond United.
He knows that, had such a scenario unfolded, it could well have cost him his job at United.
Laszlo said: “If we did not get Moshni and Anthony on board we would have had a big problem to finish in the play-offs. This is the truth. If they had not come in with the help from Paul Sturrock, maybe today I don’t sit here and have the chance to rebuild this team.
“What we had was not good enough.”
By the time the new campaign kicks off with the Betfred Cup group stages next month, United will have signed more than a new team.
Csaba knows it was necessary if the aim of a return to the Premiership at the third time of asking is to be achieved.
He said: “We want things to be different and we know we are under pressure because our target is to go up. We must be better because last season was not good enough.”