“The rollercoaster begins,” says Chris Wilder as he breaks away from team photo duties at Sixfields.
The manager, having assembled his squad over the summer, took time to help organise them at the traditional camera call.
And it gave him another chance to reflect on the group he has shaped ahead of the start of the new Sky Bet League Two season at Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
“I believe we’re in a good place,” said the typically bullish Cobblers boss.
“We’ve played some really good sides this pre-season and signed some excellent players.
“We’re definitely stronger than we were last season and I’m looking forward to seeing how the team goes.
“We’ve got a great group of players that are enthusiastic, committed and have got talent.
“It’s a tough division with tough competition.
“We’ve seen the likes of Luton sign Craig Mackail-Smith this week and some other players that have signed for other clubs, but it’s about the team and we feel we can get a good team out on the pitch and we feel we can go well.”
Wilder’s confidence is founded on the attacking threat his side displayed last season and during the build-up to the new campaign.
Only one other team, champions Burton Albion, scored more goals than the Cobblers during the previous term.
And with the likes of Nicky Adams, who has been the star of the pre-season endeavours, and Alfie Potter coming in to boost the team’s firepower, Cobblers can entertain again.
“Lawson (D’Ath) and Ricky (Holmes) ran out of steam a little bit towards the end and we need to make sure that we’ve got options and fresh options coming off the bench,” Wilder said.
“They’ve all put their hand up during pre-season, especially in the two home pre-season games that we’ve had against Birmingham and Derby.
“We looked a threat going forward and just need to make sure we keep the ball out the back of the net.
“We’ve shown good signs during pre-season that we can do that, and that’s going to be key.
“In between both boxes we feel we’ll play some decent football and we’ll get after teams, especially at home.
“The key is being clinical in both boxes and taking chances when they create themselves but also making sure we concentrate and defend as a group to make sure we keep the ball out the back of our net.”
The defensive element is something Wilder has not only reiterated in countless interviews, but also to his players.
Cobblers shipped 62 goals in 46 league games last season and their porous backline was undoubtedly their Achilles heel.
But Wilder, who has added the likes of David Buchanan, Josh Lelan and Rod McDonald to his defensive ranks during the close season, is confident an improvement is on the cards.
“I’m sure consistency in selection will show that we’ll produce consistent performances but we still have to have competition and I’m delighted with the three centre-halves and the full-backs that we’ve got at the club,” Wilder said.
“We’re delighted with the recruitment. Value for money is the key for us and we feel we’ve got the maximum out of the budget and we can hopefully look forward to keeping them all fit.”
Let the rollercoaster ride begin!