As Ralph Hasenhuttl reflects on the opening salvos of the Premier League season he may well feel pretty positive.

There is little doubt the demanding Saints boss will see plenty of room for improvement.

But having got out of a difficult opening set of fixtures relatively unscathed despite the team being some way from where he wants them to be is reason for optimism.

In the same way that a club who are challenging for the title are often excused poor performances on the basis that getting results is more important than performances, so the same must apply to a club like Saints.

And taking four points from a run that saw them play their winnable looking games away from home and two of the big six on their own turf is an acceptable return.

It is made all the better when you consider that Saints are probably more fortunate to have grabbed those points than unfortunate not to have got more.

Saints haven’t really played well for more than patches so far this season.

There has been the odd good half along the way, normally complimenting a poor half. Or spells of ten or 20 minutes where the team have clicked scattered in amongst an otherwise patchy display.

That will be the biggest concern to Hasenhuttl.

Having had a full pre-season with the team there was an expectation that Saints would suddenly come out firing and much improved, but the reality it that all these things take time.

The team have often looked disjointed and, while it hasn’t taken that long in the context of a season, it still took a bit longer than was ideal to make the decision to go to a back four.

That has been a key moment so far in this campaign.

Ditching what seemed to be a mindset that if you aren’t sure you can trust two centre halves then playing three centre halves you aren’t sure you can trust will make you less likely to concede goals has been a vital move.

Going to a back four has not only provided more cover for the defence and greater attacking threat thanks to redeploying a player ahead of the last line, but it has actually improved the performances of the central defenders too.

While of course Premier League footballers can play any number of formations and styles, there is still something about a back four that is instinctive for most footballers.

That is, quite simply, because it is how most people learn to play the game from a young age. Slipping back into it is like putting on a comfy pair of slippers.

The majority of central defenders know how to play it without having to give it much thought, and when you are under pressure in matches that subconscious understanding is a huge bonus.

Also, the extra responsibility seems to have helped. Removing the safety blanket that if you make a mistake there might be an extra player there to bail you out.

Saints have even improved in this area – and picked up all four of their points - despite Kevin Danso, the man they signed to answer such desperate pleas from supporters for centre half cover, having joined and then played at left back with the original centre halves he was bought to replace now looking like they will keep him out of the side when he returns after a one game ban assuming Ryan Bertrand is back by then.

Indeed, the problem areas of the team suddenly don’t look like being the centre half department but rather to the side of them and in front of them.

Saints will face some very different tests when they return to action.

Though the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea appear on the radar in the next spurt of action before the October international break, Sheffield United, Bournemouth and Portsmouth will pose different issues.

Saints must be ready to try and impose their style, but also be able to cope with teams going more direct against them.

While the big six sides will take you on head-to-head with a pressing game and be willing to pass out from the back, some of those sides, if they have any sense, will take Burnley’s template and try and bypass the press, turn Saints’ defence and chip balls down the channels.

It is something Saints have to be able to deal with, otherwise they will face more and more of it and struggle still further to play on their own terms and get their attack into full flow.

Plenty to work on then for Hasenhuttl and his team, but feeling that way with four points on the board is cause for satisfaction in this brief pause for reflection.