Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is hoping to take the club's pre-season preparations to the next level in the coming weeks as the Barclays Premier League kick-off begins to loom large.
The Black Cats boss was happy with his side's performances on their tour of Germany over the past fortnight, although two draws and a defeat failed to reflect what was seen as a trip filled with positives for the Wearside outfit.
"We've got a good, solid base to go from now thanks to the hard work put in during the Germany trip, and my mind is already focused on the first day of the season," Bruce told the official Sunderland website.
"We're getting ever closer and there's only three friendlies to go after this one, so the excitement is definitely building."
The game Bruce refers to is a clash against SPL side Kilmarnock tonight (Wednesday), with the Black Cats once again traveling away from the Stadium of Light.
Wes Brown, Keiren Westwood and Asamoah Gyan have all been included in the squad to face the Scottish side, who started their own league campaign with a draw against Dundee United over the weekend.
"Kilmarnock's season has already started so they will be sharp. This is a very different test to taking on German sides but it will be by no means any easier," the boss continued.
"For the lads coming back in it's a chance to get some game time under their belts, while those who have already figured should be looking to kick things up a notch."