Whisper it quietly, but an atmosphere of optimism is tiptoeing into the air around Tottenham Hotspur this summer.
A slight downshift in expectations, prompted by the prospect of starting the season realistically fighting for sixth place, and the hope Mauricio Pochettino will at least bring attacking football back to Spurs, has given fans a sizeable boost.
Those hopes were further raised by Spurs’ excellent first-half display in their pre-season friendly against Toronto, with a brace from record-signing Erik Lamela sending them in 2-0 up.
Lamela more than most represented the bitter husk of shattered dreams Spurs became last season, as the most high profile of the raft of players signed to help get over Gareth Bale.
The Argentine scored just once in an injury-hit season, when neither Andre Villas-Boas nor Tim Sherwood seemed to have any clue what to do with him.
Freed by Pochettino, Lamela strayed from his notional right-sided berth with regularity against the MLS side, as demonstrated by the position he took up on the left of the penalty box to score his two goals.
The former Roma man was not the only player energised by Spurs’ fluid attacking play, with Roberto Soldado relishing having two or three players close to him at all times.
Soldado set up both of Lamela’s goals and was a constant menace as Pochettino instructed his side to get the ball forward as quickly as possible, a marked change to the turgid build-up play from last season.
Etienne Capoue was key to that approach, moving the ball into the attacking quartet whenever he had the chance from his deep-midfield role.
The Frenchman started strongly last season before injury and Sherwood’s aversion to defensive-midfielders saw him barely feature after Christmas.
An effective midfield destroyer with the capacity to start fast attacks, Capoue looks ideal for Pochettino’s style of play and, along with Lamela and Soldado, he looks set for a much improved campaign compared to his debut year.
In truth all of Spurs’ signings from last summer, and indeed those players who have been at the club for years, should have a far better time of it under a settled manager with an attacking philosophy.