Some fans would consider the result against Birmingham a disappointing start to the season on Saturday, but there are positives to be taken from Sunderland's first game of the new league season.
Yes, the Black Cats lost a two-goal home lead, but the overall display was one of confidence, reassurance and improvement on recent seasons.
Firstly, among several new faces at the Stadium of Light, Nedum Onouha stood out as the star performer, looking comfortable and in control from start to finish accompanied by the pace of Egyptian star, El Mohammady.
A plethora of new signings generally impressed, with John Mensah’s return being reinforced by a solid Titus Bramble display in the Sunderland defence. Simon Mignolet looked nervous in goal, but should not be too down-heartened by the conceded goals, both of which had a sense of luck and lack of team concentration about them.
Black Cats captain Lee Cattermole may feel disappointed with his red card late in the first half, yet a spirited performance from the team earned a draw that had encouraging moments for the season ahead.
Bent was on the scoresheet once more, Henderson continues to mature and Richardson looks like he is settling into the left back position nicely.
Bruce has assembled the best Sunderland squad for many years, with depth in every position. There are rumours of new players arriving in the near future, hopefully including a replacement for Kenwyne Jones, and current squad players return from suspension in the coming weeks.
There should be a confident outlook at the Stadium of Light as the season starts to progress, and this 2-2 draw can be viewed as a decent result against a strong Birmingham side all things considered.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.