Sunderland finished off their pre-season schedule on Saturday evening as they welcomed Dutch side Heerenveen to the Stadium of Light.
Despite losing 1-0 to a stunning goal from Hitcham Faik, there were plenty of positives to take from the game.
Here, we look back on some of the talking points that game and pre-season threw up…
THREE AT THE BACK
Jack Ross has deployed a new formation in pre-season and his three at the back seems to be making the team much more defensively assured.
Jon McLaughlin was rarely called into action and the one goal he conceded on Saturday was a wonder-strike that nobody could have stopped.
The signing of Jordan Willis looks to be a shrewd bit of business and he was at the centre of the back three on Saturday evening.
Sunderland’s defence may have looked steady on Saturday evening, but they were unable to keep a clean sheet because of a fine goal from one of Heerenveen’s defenders.
Faik let rip from 30 yards and found the top corner in what was probably the best goal he will ever score.
The goal was so good, it even led to an applause from everyone in the Stadium of Light – such was the sweetness of the strike.
EMBLETON STAKES HIS CLAIM
Elliot Embleton started the game on Saturday evening and proved to be one of Sunderland’s brightest sparks in attack.
His creativity was there for everyone to see and he nearly scored an important goal for the Lads as his free-kick struck the inside of the post late in the second half.
The 20-year-old will have been happy with the contribution he put in to try and put himself at the forefront of the managers mind ahead of Saturday’s opener against Oxford United.
Four of Sunderland’s five summer signings got a taste of the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening and that will surely put them in good stead ahead of the start of the season next weekend.
Jordan Willis and Conor McLaughlin both started at the heart of the Sunderland defence and would have left fans optimistic, such was the strength of their performance.
Willis was athletic and rarely out of position, while McLaughlin did a great job defensively and even found himself pushing forward in the attack from time to time.
The second half saw Marc McNulty and George Dobson make their home debuts and again they did a great job of impressing the fans.
McNulty was physical up front and showed glimpses of what he can bring, while Dobson swung the momentum in Sunderland’s favour with his energy and tenacity.
The Play-Off Final back in May has probably been put to the back of every fans brain, such was the pain experienced that day.
For Max Power, that day was more heart-breaking as he went off early in the match with a rather serious ankle injury.
He has walked all through the summer to try and get ready for action and the medical staff estimated that he wouldn’t be back in training until the end of pre-season.
Power though had different ideas, and he continued his return with a late appearance on Saturday night which should have him just about ready for the game next weekend.