A new look Dons emerge from the January transfer window
MK Dons look a different side heading into February, but it wasn't entirely down to the January transfer window.
Four players departed Dons - Scott Golbourne, Gboly Ariyibi, Ryan Seager and Paul Downing - while there were plenty of incomings too, in the form of Ike Ugbo, Marcus Tavernier, Elliot Ward, Josh Tymon and Scott Golbourne again, returning after a month back at Bristol City.
There were recalls too for Ben Tilney, from Brackley Town, and Dean Lewington from his exile after a dispute with manager Robbie Neilson. Neilson though would be the biggest chance of face for Dons in the opening month of 2018.
Heading into January, attacking options were highest on the agenda - ideally a proven goal-scorer. Ugbo and Tavernier lack experience in the situation Dons find themselves in, dropping into the League 1 relegation zone having flirted with the idea for much of November and December. Seager barely saw the pitch during his five month loan spell from Southampton, but cutting short Ariyibi's loan, only to see him pop up at Northampton a few days later irked the Dons faithful. Defeat at Sixfields prompted the eventual slide into the bottom four and cost Neilson his job at the helm. That would ultimately be the biggest change Dons would make this month and had nothing to do with the window.
New manager Dan Miciche said he was happy with the attacking options at his disposal, claiming Dons were simply getting into the wrong areas, rather than lacking an attacking edge. Tavernier and Ugbo, from what little has been seen of them so far, aren't out-and-out strikers and will probably provide more goal-scoring opportunities than they will convert but appear to have a creative streak in them - something Dons haven't had much of recently. With the likes of Osman Sow, Chuks Aneke, Kieran Agard, Robbie Muirhead and the seemingly back in favour Giorgio Rasulo - named dropped several times already by Micciche - Dons aren't short of numbers in attacking areas, but none have set the world alight so far this season.
Shipping goals at the other end has been a problem for two-and-a-half-years. Injury to Golbourne coincided with his loan deal expiring, but he was back a little under three weeks later having signed until the end of the season, while Joe Walsh had been ruled out for the rest of the season, leaving Dons short in the middle. Forgotten man Downing had his move to Blackburn made permanent, but bringing in Ward from Ewood Park and teenager Tymon from Stoke bolstered numbers. Stealing the headline though was the return of Lewington as player-coach, immediately marking his return with a start in the 1-0 defeat to Coventry on Saturday after spending three months in the cold.
This now is Micciche's lot - his squad to keep Dons in League 1. Defensively bolstered with experience, a new creative streak powered by youth in attack, and given a new direction by the new manager to save them from League 2 with 18 games remaining.