Oxford exploit key weakness, Will Grigg conundrum plus Juan Sartori's return: Six things learned from Sunderland draw
New season, new kit, four new signings starting and a new system.
Yet Sunderland were unable to kick-off the new League One campaign with a win, the Black Cats forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Oxford United.
Here's what we learned:
Draws killed promotion hopes last season.
It all felt a little too familiar. Sunderland held at home to a side intent on getting their noses in front early and then attempting to waste as much time as possible.
Credit to Oxford, they looked well organised and well drilled and carried a threat on the counter.
They also exposed Sunderland's weakness.
Left-side a concern
Denver Hume will be given the chance to put a marker down as first choice at left wing-back and he deserves to after a promising pre-season.
However, his partnership with Tom Flanagan (on the left-hand side of the back three) wasn't what it needed to be, there was acres of space which Oxford looked to exploit. Ross will persist with his new system but that area needs addressing.
Juan Sartori makes his Stadium of Light return
Sartori made his first appearance for several months following an unsuccessful attempt to be elected as Uruguay's president.
It will be interesting to see if Sartori is willing to invest more money with Stewart Donald looking for further investment to take the club on to the next level. Watch this space.
New signings impress
Conor McLaughlin was caught in possession for the Oxford goal but that mistake aside, the new signings impressed with Marc McNulty looking sharp and George Dobson providing the legs in the middle.
Jordan Willis has added some pace and physical presence to the backline.
Will Grigg yet to fire
Another game, another Grigg blank.
It is becoming an increasing concern for Ross who needs the club's big-money signing firing if Sunderland are to win promotion.
Aiden McGeady boost
Having missed a large chunk of pre-season and still not being pain-free, it was good to see McGeady return from the bench against Oxford.
He will be a major player. Sunderland will hope he can stay injury-free.