Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson believes the bar has been raised for all his players thanks to his January transfer business.
A United reserve team, which included a string of first-team squad members who were in the side prior to the arrival of the new boys, dished out a 7-0 beaten to a young Dundee XI at Dens Park on Tuesday.
That was perhaps a sign that people like Frederic Frans, Paul Watson, Rachid Bouhenna, Matty Smith, Fraser Fyvie, Sam Stanton and Paul McMullan know they have work to do in order to get their jersey back.
Neilson said: “The quality we have brought in has definitely lifted the bar.
“Even the guys who haven’t been involved in the last couple of games are really pushing to get back in the team again.
“There has to be that competition.
“In the past guys would maybe look at the bench and think that no matter what happened they would be playing the following week.
“That’s not the case now because the pressure is there all the time.
“Fitness levels are still improving but that’s just what happens when guys haven’t been playing.
“You need to manage it through.
“The most important thing is getting them all ready for a Saturday.
“They have been working hard in training and gradually that fitness will come.
“We are pushing them as hard as we can while not affecting the game on Saturday.
“We have guys who can manage themselves in games like Mark Reynolds, Mark Connolly, Calum Butcher, Morgaro Gomis and Nicky Clark.
“For example, getting Nicky back has been like getting another new signing in the January window, to be honest.”
Meanwhile, Neilson knows better than most the threat posed by goal machine Stephen Dobbie.
The Queen of the South striker lit up the last round of the William Hill Scottish Cup with a wonder strike against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, easing some of the agony of his team’s 4-1 defeat.
It was Dobbie’s 38th strike of the season, a remarkable tally that has grabbed the attention of football folk in this country and beyond.
It is Neilson’s job to implement a game plan that will stop Dobbie reaching number 39 at Palmerston on Saturday when the Tangerines visit Dumfries in the Championship.
He certainly knows all about him.
Neilson said: “I have known Stephen for a long time.
“We were at Rangers as schoolboys years ago.
“He was always a phenomenal finisher but I think he will agree himself that his lifestyle off the pitch didn’t match his quality on it.
“He went from Rangers to Hibs then to St Johnstone and I think it was maybe going to Queen of the South that gave him the shock he needed.
“He had to get himself going again and has gone on to have a fantastic career.
“I think he’s proof to any young players who leave the bigger clubs that they can still get back in and make it to the top level if you look after yourself.
“I know he loves it at Queens. I was there myself so I know the club and the atmosphere they have there.
“The people there are brilliant and with his family staying in England it suits him.
“He’s just a very good player and I think he has the freedom of Dumfries these days. He’s a God down there.
“He has a lot of quality and knows how to score goals.
“His movement is great, when you watch him you see how good he is with his finishing and that final pass.
“He has been on fire lately and is someone we will have to get to grips with.”