Jets coach Carl Robinson is determined to put his stamp back on the A-League side as he focuses on performance over results in their competition resumption next Tuesday against Sydney FC.
The Welshman, who returned home to Canada during the COVID-19 break in the league, had been monitoring training from afar before returning from quarantine on Saturday.
He has just over a week to get hands-on with his squad on the pitch before the first of four games to finish their regular season. Newcastle are ninth on 24 points, just three points outside the top six, but their rivals for a finals berth have games in hand.
Robinson said on Monday that he was happy with what he had seen firsthand at training but "there are areas I want to improve".
The Jets had revived their play-off chances under Robinson, who took over in February after the axing of Ernie Merrick, and he was focused on a return to his style, regardless of the challenges of a limited preparation.
"I sort of need to reintroduce the ideas I brought to them when I first come, because they had forgotten them, some ideas to a certain extent," Robinson said.
"So it was reintroducing them but it's also reinstilling confidence because all teams will be working hard, all teams will be at certain fitness levels, but I've said to them I want to play a certain way.
"We saw glimpses of if when I came over and I want to reintroduce that. And it is different and there are circumstances that are going to dictate that as well, but the way we play won't change.
"I want to build, I want to play, I want to try to find the spare man, we want to try to score goals, we want to try to win games. So I'll focus on that rather than results and if results come, great. If they don't come, well, I'm focusing on performance.
"There's lots of good things but still areas I need to tactically get into them. The information I need to get into them is very important over these next 10 days because the fitness guy tells me we are fit enough, so we'll see."
Robinson will reinforce his philosophy when Newcastle meet Western Sydney Wanderers in a friendly at Pluim Park, Ourimbah, on Wednesday from 3pm. The clubs will play three 45-minute trials.
Ben Kantarovski will not feature against Sydney. Kantarovski was out with a quadriceps tear when the league was suspended on March 24 and Robinson said he had "picked up a small niggle again".
Meanwhile, Robinson said the future of captain Nigel Boogaard would likely be unknown until after the season.
The Jets confirmed in June they had signed former Victory centre-back James Donachie to a three-year deal from 2020-21, fuelling speculation off-contract Boogaard could leave.
However, Robinson said likely cuts to the salary cap and uncertainty over the next season's schedule meant "we're not in a position to be able to commit to players".
"I try to be honest with players and some players will leave and some will stay," he said. "We have talked about pre-signing one or two players, which was done early on in the process which obviously got out, but that might change again because circumstances with contracts might dictate that.
"What I've said to all players is that I'm not in a position to tell you at the moment. Let's play out these last four games and we'll see.
"But it's not as easy as a player being out of contract and me wanting him to stay or not stay because there's numerous factors.
"Nige is obviously the captain of the team, he's got himself fit now, he was in a good run of form prior to the COVID break and he needs to see out these last four games, then I'll sit down with Nige and we'll see what he wants to do, what I want to do and what we can do."
Robinson, though, said Boogaard and other off-contract players would not be judged solely on the final four games.
"Every training day is a judgement day because I'm testing their mentality, I'm testing their fitness levels and I want to see whether they want to grow, not just in the last four games but next year and the year after," he said.
"So there's a number of factors that come into that. It's an opportunity for the players in the games to put their hands up and say, 'Hey boss, I want to be here next year'.
"... I've got in my mind what I want to happen but having said that, it's not as easy as that. If I've got a certain amount of money and I've got to spend it on one player, but the money doesn't match what the player wants, then I'm not signing that player. That's the problem you have in a salary cap league and I understand that and I respect that.
"I've also been a player and as a player you've got to make decisions for you and your family.
"I'm open and as honest with as many of them as I can, and we decide then probably at the end of the season when it's a bit clearer, but at the moment it's as clear as mud."