Less than two weeks now separate Saints from their opening fixture of the new Premier League season against Burnley and Mark Hughes cannot wait for the big kick off on 12 August.
Speaking after his side’s 2-0 victory over Dijon to round off the second phase of their pre-season preparations in France, the Welshman expressed his and the squad’s excitement to return home for a final pair of fixtures against Celta Vigo and Borussia Mönchengladbach this week.
For some, from new signings to returning loanees and Saints academy youngsters, both matches will mark a first taste of first-team action at St Mary’s.
“We can't wait,” Hughes said. “We've got a number of new players obviously, and younger players coming back into the group with us, so it will be new experiences for a number we've brought into the group.
“It will be good for them, but from everybody's point of view it will be great to get back out at St Mary's.
“We can't wait for the season to start now. We've got two weeks of good work to go, and I think you can see the difference between this week and last week. We'd like to think we can keep on improving at the same rate.”