JETS coach Arthur Papas has the utmost confidence in the squad he has assembled in Newcastle. Now it's about building the list into a team that can challenge for an A-League championship.
Spanish lynchpin Mario Arques - the final piece of a puzzle formed virtually from scratch - joins the group this week, taking the roster to 22 senior players, plus four scholarship holders.
"Overall, in terms of the squad, we have done some good business," Papas said. "There is competition for each position which is important. I'm pleased with the work we have done. Now I'm looking forward to seeing them go toe to toe with anyone.
"We have a good squad that is all together. That will give us the chance to build now that we are all finally on the park."
In total, Papas, who took the reins from Craig Deans, has welcomed 15 fresh faces, led by imports Arques, Savvas Siatranis (Greece), Daniel Penha (Brazil), Olivier Boumal (Cameroon) and Beka Mikeltadze (Georgia).
The core of the squad has been training for three months. Much of the work has been done at an intensity many players hadn't experienced during pre-season before.
Incredibly, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the players - and game plan - haven't been tested against opposition other than intraclub games.
Sydney FC beat Macarthur 5-0 in a friendly on Saturday and in other states with lesser constraints clubs have played regular games.
The Jets had their maiden hit out against Northern NSW club Broadmeadow Magic on Saturday.
All Jets players and staff have had at least their first COVID-19 vaccination and club management are in the process of arranging trials with other NSW based A-League clubs.
"We really need to play games," Papas said. "I have never experienced a situation where you train for so long, especially with the changes in personnel we have made, and you can't work on basic relationships. Every few days I get a schedule to move forward with and then it gets changed. We have put something forward now for what the next three weeks looks like. I hope it sticks."
At best, the Jets will play three trials against A-League opposition before they start their campaign against the Mariners at home on November 21.
"We have players who have come in at different stages," Papas said. "A core group of the team is where we want them to be physically. There is another group who is not. We need to address that. They also have to develop relationships on the field. Until you have played games against other teams, you don't know about that completely."
In the meantime, the Jets have lined up another game against Magic, who are preparing for their FFA Cup clash against Western Sydney on November 10 at No.2 Sportsground. Newcastle Olympic tackle Macarthur at the same venue on November 13.
"The hit out against Broadmeadow on Saturday was good," Papas said. "We gave everyone a run and scored a few goals.
"Broadmeadow have only just started moving. They need to prepare and get fitter for the FFA Cup and we are happy to accommodate them."
Arques, 29, will be eased into training this week but Papas has no doubts the Spaniard will be a key figure.
"What attracted us to Mario is his poise on the ball first and foremost," Papas said. "His ability to control tempo. Someone who always wants the ball, always keep the ball moving, happy to the dirty work and has really solid leadership skills having captained a lot of the teams."
It is the first season since 2016-17 that the Jets have filled the full allowance of foreign players before the campaign kicks off.
"Normally when you bring in foreigners it is their job to fit in with the culture here," Papas said. "They are all willing to do that.
"There was a lot of work done on finding out who they are. That doesn't guarantee anything but it helps you tick a lot of boxes.
"I don't think we should get to the point where we rely on a foreigner to be the difference. Everyone has to contribute if we are going to be successful.
"It doesn't matter of you are the youngest player, the oldest player, if you are from Australia or overseas, if you are putting that jersey on, we expect a certain level that comes with that."