Jack Ross admits there is a lot of room for improvement from his players before the League One campaign kicks off after losing their opening pre-season friendly.
Sunderland were beaten 1-0 by Darlington at Blackwell Meadows, Jordan Nicholson capitalising on a mistake by new signing Alim Ozturk in the ninth minute.
Ross wasn't impressed by the opening half hour from his side, labelling it a "passive performance" but the level did improve as the game wore on.
Sunderland, who named four new signings in the starting line-up plus triallist Anton Forrester, couldn't find an equaliser though.
Ross made eight changes on the hourmark and there was a stark improvement but the opening game of the Ross era was to end in defeat.
"First of all you are disappointed to lose any game, that is the mentality we are trying to create within the group," reflected Ross.
"To lose any game, friendly or competitive is always disappointing. First half hour we were poor, very passive.
"We played it like it was a friendly and they played it like it was a competitive game.
“After that, we did okay, but we can play a lot better. We are still a long way away from where we need to be at.
"I understood that when I took the job, squad wise in terms of numbers and positions etc.
"There are a lot of factors preventing us getting everything together as quickly as we can but certainly we need to improve a lot from tonight to get us ready for the first league game.
"Darlington were always going to make the game competitive – that’s why we take these kind of games on.
"There are a lot of things we need to improve on but ultimately it is about being ready for the first league game.
"That is what these weeks and games are all about."