Former Sunderland left-back Michael Gray says Sunderland's strong opening performance was testament to Simon Grayson's pre-season work.
Six players made their competitive debuts in the 1-1 draw with Derby County, many of whom are still short of full match fitness.
The Black Cats impressed nevertheless and came close to snatching all three points.
After a difficult build-up to the game, including a 5-0 defeat to Celtic and Darron Gibson being caught on camera criticising team-mates, Gray said it was an impressive performance.
"They answered a lot of the questions that people have had over the last couple of weeks, which was great. They came back from a goal behind, which was fantastic," he told Channel 5's Championship highlights show.
"I’m so pleased for Simon because he’s worked every so hard to bring in players, we’ve only spent £2 million coming down from the premier League and brought in several players. He had to bed them in and get the best out of them, and he certainly did that against Derby."