Confidence is something that's been in short supply on Wearside this summer, given some dodgy pre-season results and a concerning lack of money spent in preparation for the Championship.
Any lingering optimism was surely destroyed over the weekend, as a second-string Celtic side handed Sunderland their biggest ever loss at the Stadium of Light, on what was supposed to be a celebration of 20 years of the ground.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Darron Gibson's scathing attack on the club and his wantaway teammates has since surfaced online, failing to accomplish anything but inflict more embarrassment to the supporters of Sunderland.
Though relegation was obviously disappointing, some fans saw it as a break, a chance to experience a year free from slumming it out in the drop zone and maybe even win a few games.
If the club keeps heading in the direction this pre-season has steered us toward, I fear being in a lower league won't mean no relegation battle.
Simon Grayson needs a strong start to the season, admittedly easier said than done when considering our opening fixtures, to right some of the wrongs this summer has brought us.
We've seen in games against Celtic and St. Johnstone what happens to us when our heads drop, and we can't afford to crumble that easily once the season starts.
A good mindset really is massive; Grayson's man-management skills are going to be severely put to the test.
Alternatively, a good start sets us up for the season, and all the negativity and humiliation this debacle of a pre-season has brought will be a distant memory.
Let's just hope the new signings make a difference, and more importantly, James Vaughan is taken off penalty duty.
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