Sometimes you learn more from a defeat than a victory and last night was certainly a case in point as Brentford went down to a defeat by four goals to nil to Osasuna at Griffin Park.
Make no mistake about it, Osasuna were no mugs and despite their relegation from La Liga at the end of last season they looked a highly impressive team – particularly that is in the second half when they made eleven substitutions and brought on pretty much their entire first team.
Skilful on the ball with slick passing and impressive running off the ball, the visitors took total control after the break, cut Brentford apart on countless occasions and ran in four goals in a victory that looked by no means certain at the half-time interval.
So why am I sanguine about things even after so heavy a defeat?
Simply because pre-season is when you learn about your squad.
Who is good enough, who isn’t and who, in time, might be.
Certainly Brentford would have come away with a far better scoreline had they fielded a line-up similar to the one they put out on Saturday against Nice.
But what would that have proved and what would Mark Warburton have learned had that been the case?
Absolutely nothing in my opinion.
As it was he made sure that most of the squad now have ninety minutes of match action under their belt and most importantly, talisman and inspiration, Adam Forshaw made his first appearance of the pre-season and played all of the second half.
He was tentative and showed little, but in the great scheme of things last night is simply a pathway leading towards the big kick off on August 9th and Mark Warburton’s objective is to have a full squad, fit, ready, eager and fully prepared in time to face Charlton Athletic.
There were positives last night.
Alan McCormack returned from injury and was his normal robust and competitive self and came closest of any Bee to scoring when his overlapping run ended with a cross-shot just wide of the far post when the game was still goalless.
Harlee Dean too played the full ninety minutes and was probably our best player.
He looks to have slimmed down and was everywhere in defence as well as making some storming runs upfield. he knows he faces a stern fight for a first team place and looks like he was up for the challenge.
Richard Lee too was calmness and competence personified and we have two excellent goalkeepers to choose from.
Mark Warburton was delighted with our first half display when we matched our illustrious visitors, mainly, in my view, thanks to Marcos Tebar who pulled all the stings in midfield. Always looking for the ball, always available, always using the ball accurately and with imagination and also, very gratifyingly, being prepared to press and challenge and win the ball back.
On the evidence of the last two games we have a massively impressive asset there and the partnership with Jonathan Douglas augurs well for the long season ahead.
We rested ten of the eleven starters from Saturday with Andre Gray the only exception, and his presence was only due to the ankle injury suffered by Scott Hogan.
Andre hustled and bustled, had a good shot which hit the keeper and, as always looked dangerous, but he lacked support and given Scott’s likely absence for a fortnight, we need more help and an extra body up front and I am certain that there will be moves in that direction within the next few days.
Tommy Smith is also on the injured list but will hopefully play some part on Saturday against Crystal Palace and his experience would be useful at the moment.
The match also demonstrated to the younger and more inexperienced players exactly the standard that is required of them if they are to make their way at this level of the game and Raphael Calvet, Josh Clarke, Jake Reeves, Montell Moore, Charlie Adams and trialist Daniel O’Shaughnessy will have learned much from last night’s experience.
What also pleased me was how forceful Mark Warburton was in his post-match interview when quizzed about the Adam Forshaw situation.
His eyes glinted and he made it clear that our prize asset is going nowhere.
He endorsed what I said in my blog yesterday about how nonsensical it would be to sell the Division One Player of the Year to a Championship rival.
There is a lot that remained unspoken, and I am sure he would like to have said more about the manner in which Wigan have conducted their business in public but his tone and body language made it clear how angry and disappointed he is.
We are a strong and solid unit and will not allow ourselves to be destabilised by outsiders.
Last night was a learning curve and taught us far more about the entire squad than would a run out against a local Non League team. I am sure that on Saturday we will see all of the players who were rested last night.
It is all about being ready and prepared first for Crystal Palace and then for Saturday week against Charlton Athletic, and I have no doubt that we will be.
Read more from Greville on his blog