Karl Robinson admitted it has been a long, arduous task in rebuilding his MK Dons squad - one which began in back February.
The manager evaded interest for three of his players on transfer deadline day, most notably Dele Alli, while all of his seven incomings were completed well in advance of the window closing on Monday night.
There’s no denying that it’s a new-look side Robinson has built this season, and it is one that has cast off some of the stars that were once first team regulars.
“I had to make a big decision in the middle of February - a decision I’ve not had to make before,” said Robinson. “I persevered with things until the end of last season. I don’t think you recognised me, I was a different person.
“I was unhappy because I was watching a team dwindle and be broken up, and we had to do something to make sure this season was better.
“We had to do what we did to that team. An experienced manager told me ‘every four years, you need to freshen up.’
“It was a complete overhaul. Only two or three players ended last season, started this one. It shows the development.
“For me, as a young manager, I’ve had a lot to learn that I’ve never known before.
“I came back with a mentality that we want to play well and want to make the fans proud. I’ve had no pressure on me this year.”
On Monday night, Dons were in a unique position in that they didn’t have to sell anyone, particularly the player everyone expected in Alli.
The manager admitted there were three players being sniffed about at on deadline day, and while Alli remained very much content to stay at stadium:mk, a move for another player ‘was close’ while the other ‘wasn’t too close’ - but ultimately everyone stayed put.
He said: “When it comes to deadline day, everyone looks at who you’re going to bring in. But for us, we were in the unique position of not letting people go. That was our scenario for the final 48 hours.
“We know a certain person won’t be here for too much longer, but we don’t want to lose him just yet. He’s too much of an asset on and off the pitch.
“He didn’t have to be here, but myself and the chairman are over the moon of how he conducted himself. The boy deserves a hero’s welcome.
“There have been one or two opportunities and he wants what’s best for his career, but also for this club and the fans.”
Now with all his pieces in place, Robinson knows exactly what he has to play with for the coming months.
It’s a side that has lost just once in the opening seven games - games which include pressure cookers of AFC Wimbledon and Manchester United - hasn’t conceded in nearly six hours and sits comfortably third in League 1.
So while it feels like the season is much older than the four weeks old it really is, Robinson knows there is a long way to go before he can start thinking about what he can expect from this squad.
“We’ve got so much work to do yet,” he admitted. “You’ve not heard me come out and say where we’re going to end up. We’re just a good team that really enjoys wearing the badge on at the moment.
“I look at the group and they’re hungry, energetic, they’re willing to learn, and patient if they’re not playing.
“I just want to enjoy watching my team play, and it gives me a spring in my step. We’ve all had that spring.
“Players who have been here for a long time have noticed it too, and there’s a spring in their step too.
“We’re all confident, but there’s no arrogance. We’re just enjoying being part of this club. It’s a really positive time.”