NEW coach Arthur Papas has vowed to transform the Newcastle Jets into a team who win games through sheer hard work.
While hopes are high that a recent spending spree will add a touch of quality and class to Newcastle's roster, Papas believes the real key to success will be hours of toil on the training pitch and in the gym.
"The first area that I always address is our work ethic, to be honest with you," Papas told the Newcastle Herald.
"We've started [pre-season] early for a reason, because we need to ingrain a certain working culture into the organisation in terms of the way we approach our football and the mentality we have.
"The first thing is we need to be the hardest-working team in the league.
"That's a non-negotiable.
"That's something we're working on already, because to play the type of football that I like to play, you need to be hard-working.
"You need to be extremely mobile, you need to be extremely aggressive and the intensity is never compromised. It's all about dominating the game and dominating as high as possible, and scoring goals."
Papas said Newcastle's first few days of training had been "very positive", although he suspected the intensity of the sessions may have been an eye-opener for his new troops.
"There's no handbrake in anything we do," he said.
"We've trained three sessions now, and at the end of today's session, I said to the players: 'That's probably the easiest three days you'll have all year'. I think they were a bit astounded by that.
"But when you want to be champions, you need to train at the top intensity every single day. We won't take our foot off the pedal."
Papas said every player "has a clean slate from day one" and all positions were up for grabs.
Newcastle's first competitive opponents will be Western United in the FFA Cup qualifying round, on the weekend of August 7-8.
The Jets have traditionally struggled in the FFA Cup but Papas left no doubt what it means to him.
"It's an opportunity to compete," Papas said.
"It's an opportunity to win something, and that's important, because you want to be successful and win things.
"With the Australian calendar, there is basically the FFA Cup and the league. Most countries have three or four competitions.
"So anything we're entered into, our aim will be to be successful and win it."
Several new signings - including New Zealand Olywhites representatives Joey Champness and Dane Ingham and Georgian striker Beka Mikeltadze - are still several weeks from arriving in Newcastle.
In addition, defender James Donachie, who was loaned out to play in India last season, is not on deck and is expected to negotiate a release.
Donachie's situation appears unlikely to leave a door ajar for veteran Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who is weighing whether to retire or find another club, at the age of 36.