With eight of their 11 games so far in League One coming against sides currently occupying the top half of the table it is fair to say Doncaster Rovers were presented with a tough start to the current campaign.
But as Rovers prepare to welcome fourth-placed Bristol Rovers to the Keepmoat this afternoon, full-back Brad Halliday says the tasking opening to the season has been beneficial to the squad.
“I think it’s been a difficult start for us,” the Redcar-born defender said. “We seem to have been playing teams when they’re hitting good form.
“Saturday is no different – Bristol Rovers are in good form at the minute and they’ve had some really good results.
“I think if anything it’s made us better. It’s added character to ourselves and showed that we can play these teams in good form and up towards the top end of the league and hopefully get something out of the game.
“It’s an on-going thing. We’re working hard in training every single week.
“We’re not satisfied with the start we’ve made. We can always improve and get better.
“That is what the gaffer drills into us every day in training.”
Rovers are in somewhat uncharted territory heading into this weekend.
Last Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Oxford United was the first of Darren Moore’s tenure as boss that could be labelled comprehensive, with most points dropped this term due to conceding late goals.
But Halliday did not believe the game was a complete write-off, suggesting there were positives that could have been taken from the performance – particularly had Rovers shown some much-needed ruthlessness in front of goal.
He said: “It is hard to take but I did feel that even at 2-0 down, we had chances to get back into the game. Even at 3-0, I know it’s a big ask, but we were still creating chances.
“If you can take those chances and be ruthless, there is always a path back into the game.
“We’ve kept the same mood, staying level-headed all season. We’ve played teams at the top end and that have been on form. It’s no different to us.
“We prepare for every team differently so we’re ready for Saturday.”
Visitors Bristol Rovers have proved somewhat of a surprise package this season.
Graham Coughlan’s in-form side have won their last four matches in all competitions and are unbeaten since August in League One.