“I was in the pool on holiday when I was told about our first four home fixtures,” said the then Hull City manager when speaking to The Yorkshire Post at the club’s pre-season training camp in Portugal.
“I swam to the bottom and thought about staying there.”
Bruce’s trepidation was understandable.
Not only were reigning champions, Leicester City, due at the KCOM Stadium on the opening day but the next three visitors before the October international break would be Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Throw in trips to Liverpool, Swansea City and Hull’s bogey side Burnley and it was clear that the Championship play-off winners had been handed a daunting start from a run of fixtures that, against the same opposition in 2014-15, had yielded a paltry two points.
That the Tigers managed to claim seven points this time around from such a tough schedule is, therefore, to their credit. It means a foundation has been laid in the quest to stay up, even allowing for the last five of those games having only brought a point from the trip to Turf Moor.
Robert Snodgrass secured that draw with a sublime free-kick deep into stoppage-time and he insists the squad can be satisfied with their start.
“When you are up against some of the best and you are down to 10 men in two of the games, it is no surprise we got nothing from the games,” said the Scot.
“It was a different story against Chelsea. We did well for 45 minutes, but in the second half it was below our standards as a team. We know that and I feel for the lads.
“It was different to the Championship and we have to change the mentality quick. It has been a very tough month for us, but we move on and get ready for the games ahead.”
Hull’s schedule once the Premier League resumes after a fortnight’s break with a trip to Bournemouth looks, on paper, to be much less onerous.
West Bromwich Albion, sitting ninth in the table, are the highest-placed side among Hull’s next seven opponents with three of those currently sitting below Mike Phelan’s men in the table.
“This is a run where we believe we can get something from the games,” added Snodgrass. “It is difficult when you have played four, maybe five if you include Leicester, of the top teams.
“But we are a level-headed bunch of lads, a mature bunch, and we now what to expect from this Premier League. We will roll our sleeves up and get ready for the battle.”
Hull sit three points and three places above the relegation zone despite three consecutive losses that saw 11 goals conceded and just two scored.
“Right now we are in the bottom half of the table and it is only us that can change it,” added Snodgrass, who this week joins up with his Scotland team-mates ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Lithuania and Slovakia.
“We are getting there slowly but surely and I believe we will get there. No one ever said you will get there without hard work so we will stick together as a team. It will be the team that’s the key factor in turning it around.
“Losing to Chelsea was hard and difficult to take, but we will go away for the internationals, come back, regroup and look forward to a month ahead.
“They will be games we believe we can win.”