Boss Chris Wilder believes his Northampton Town side can use last season’s momentum to hit the ground running.
The Cobblers seemed doomed to certain relegation last season until a change of manager and a run of five wins and four draws in their last 12 matches secured a great escape.
Faltering Northampton had entered the drop zone on 21st September following a 3-0 reversal at Mansfield and remained in the bottom two until they beat Dagenham 3-0 on 26th April to dramatically pull themselves to safety.
But Wilder, who took over at Sixfields on 26th January, believes the club has made the signings necessary to avoid a repeat of last season’s disappointment.
“We can take the momentum from the end of last season into this season and that should give us confidence,” said Wilder.
“Everyone is positive and with the signings we have made we feel we should be.
“We have made some good signings, we tied up those who we wanted to stay early and we are ready for a long season.
“We are all refreshed after the summer and we are ready to go.
“We are all looking forward to the start of the season. It has been a tough pre-season for the players, but we have worked hard and we want to be successful.
“We are confident we have prepared as well as we could have, but the real test comes at 3pm on Saturday.”
Win, lose or draw on Saturday, the former Alfreton Town boss has also vowed that Northampton will keep their feet on the ground and focus on the bigger picture.
“We won’t get carried away if we win on Saturday and we won’t get down in the dumps if we lose,” Wilder added.
“It is a tough 46 game competition and you need to be strong enough, mentally and physically, to last the pace. We will be judged in May, not on one or two games.
“We are pleased to start at home and everyone is keen to start well but it is a long season. We will stay grounded whatever happens this weekend and look ahead.”
And he is expecting a tough test against Paul Cox’s hardworking side
Said Wilder: “Mansfield did well last season and they are a tough side to play against. They are a competitive side and they were not far away from the play offs last season.
“They will fancy their chances this time in an open league and they are one of the strong teams to look out for.
“Each team we play through the season will have different strengths and weaknesses and we have to try and overcome whatever challenge we face each week.
“We will be positive on Saturday and we will try and reward the fans for their support. You need a solid home record to be successful and that is what we will be aiming for.
“We have got through pre-season without too many injuries - we only really have Kelvin Lnagmead out - everyone else is fit and raring to go and it is up to me to pick the side that we feel gives us the best chance of a good result on Saturday.”
Mansfield, who will be without suspended Matt Rhead and the injured Luke Jones, will be looking for their first opening day away win since they beat Wigan in 1990.
Don’t read too much in to Mansfield Town’s pre-season form warns boss Paul Cox
John Dempster happy with Mansfield Town’s preparations
Paul Cox and Chris Wilder expect League Two to be even more competitive