It’s almost time for the talking to stop and the fun to begin, but the big question remains as to whether Saints can feel confident of a season better than the last.

You might be tempted to say it couldn’t be much worse, which would of course be true, save for the finale where Saints avoided the ultimate humiliation of relegation.

This time they won’t want to be having to give that a second thought.

Whether that is optimistic or not time will tell.

It’s fair to say that Saints have upgraded their manager from last summer.

At this point a year ago nobody really knew what to expect from Mauricio Pellegrino, because nobody really knew much about him.

Though it was far from all his fault, as it turned out things went rather badly and only the late intervention of Mark Hughes stopped a calamity for the club.

With Hughes now permanently in situ, along with his trusty staff Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki, Saints have a wealth of experience to guide them.

It already feels better thanks to that, and like they will be quicker to adapt, to spot problems and to deal with them.

Hughes’ pre-season decision to seem to want to permanently settle with three centre halves and to get two strikers into the side when possible, whether as a natural front two or with one off of the other with a kind of diamond midfield as on Saturday, is surely proof positive.

He has recognised that Saints don’t have many goals in them, so getting two of Charlie Austin, Manolo Gabbiadini and Shane Long on the pitch is their best bet, at least when not playing the top six when, perhaps, Saints may need to pack out the midfield. Also, the delivery of Ryan Bertrand from left wing back will be crucial.

But for all their smarts, Hughes and his team are not miracle workers, and so they must have a squad that are capable.

There are still a few days left until the transfer window closes and so more business is possible, though pointless unless it is a deal significant enough to affect the starting line-up, but when it slams shut will Saints have done enough?

And by that you must mean not just enough to avoid relegation - and on the flip side to really even challenge for European football again, though that would be marvellous - but to have a season where the drop isn’t a worry and some entertaining football returns to St Mary’s.

Saints have done their business early and all of their signings look like solid deals. No arguments there.

The question is just how much have they improved a team who struggled so badly or are we, as for several seasons, just pinning everything on the manager again?

Analyse the signings and Angus Gunn is a good investment for the future, but for now he’s a second choice keeper when Fraser Forster is still around.

Moi Elyounoussi and Stuart Armstrong look good players and that they will contribute, but they replace Dusan Tadic and add back-up to an area where Saints have been short.

Given Tadic has been Saints’ most creative player for a number of years it is a gamble that you are not downgrading the team.

With Jannik Vestergaard we wait to see how good he is but that is an investment in an area that clearly needed strengthening with Florin Gardos having been released.

The big worry for Saints remains scoring goals.

In January the club tried to land Theo Walcott and Quincy Promes, seemingly recognising a lack of pace in attacking areas. Alright, they have changed formation since then, but it is hard to fathom how that was such a priority in desperate times but this summer seems to have slipped by the wayside.

It does look risky, but time will tell.

And, ultimately, there remains no getting away from the fact that some truly horrendous looking recruitment - see Boufal and Carrillo – has cost Saints the chance to invest more.

The latter of those two, now loaned out, still leaves you shaking your head in disbelief. £19.2m. For Saints. Nine appearances, no goals. Loaned out after 164 days, with Saints supposedly still paying most of his wages. Wow.

No wonder they can’t afford many more deals now.

While pre-season results are rarely an accurate gauge of an upcoming campaign, there are a few themes from Saints’ to raise a few concerns.

With all of the above in mind, it is that some of the problems we saw last season are still there with goals conceded all too easily and difficulty in creating chances.

Hughes remains outwardly confident that it will come good so we and the club must back him.

In fairness, the Borussia Monchengladbach game was always likely to be tough for Saints. It was a third game in a week, it was scorching hot at pitch level at St Mary’s, and there was still a juggling act with regards to fitness with players having returned at different times.

Still, it was the vocal bare-chested Germans who made the trip over who had most to shout about.

They scored their first goal on 21 minutes with a ball down Saints right to Fabian Johnson who looked up and spotted Patrick Herrmann darting in at the back post for a simple close range finish.

Before the hour mark Monchengladbach had scored two more.

Saints failed to close down Denis Zakaria, who meandered forward and then unleashed a shot that moved away from Alex McCarthy from 20 yards.

The third saw an all too simple diagonal pass again cut open the backline to play in Herrmann who finished low into the far corner.

Were it not for McCarthy and some poor finishing the damage could have been worse.

As a creative force Saints produced little.

Manolo Gabbiadini saw the only opening of the first half saved, while in the second Shane Long and Moi Elyounoussi forced the keeper into action while Maya Yoshida headed over.

What Saints need more than anything is to prove they have moved on by getting off to a flyer against Burnley. That will quell so many questions and doubts.