Michael Marrone believes Adelaide United have shown big signs of progression under new boss Marco Kurz.
Marrone scored the only goal of the night on Wednesday as United knocked fellow A-League side Newcastle Jets out of the FFA Cup Round of 32.
It was a big win for Adelaide, who just a few weeks ago had only eight players rock up for the start of pre-season training under the German coach.
However, Marrone says the intense sessions under Kurz have helped the side, and the progress made is evident to see.
"It was a tough game, they had their chances, we had our chances, it was a bit scrappy as you can expect from the first game," Marrone said.
"Once we get a few more players back in I think we'll be pretty strong.
"We set up really well tactically, I think we defended well as a unit which the coach is very big on.
"That was probably key to getting the win and keeping a clean sheet.
“We’re slowly working on the way we’re setting up defensively which has been a big point in the preseason, and from there we've started to work on the way we want to attack."
Adelaide have made several signings in the off-season, but one who impressed on Wednesday was Danish winger Johan Absalonsen, who set up the winning goal.
"It was a brilliant ball from Johan and I didn’t have to do much to be fair,” he said. “He just put it on a platter and I was just in the right position at the right time," Marrone said.
"He’s an excellent player and a very hard worker.
"Him and Nikola (Mileusnic) worked especially hard on the wings for us to close down their fullbacks and centre-backs.
"That’s going to be very important this year, we need our attackers to press and defend."
Adelaide, who finished second last in 2016/17, have ramped up their work levels in the pre-season under Kurz, who has taken over from Premiership/Championship-winning coach Guillermo Amor, and Marrone says it will only get tougher in the coming weeks.
"Compared to last year the pre-season we’ve had has been especially hard, we’ve been doing a lot more sessions both tactically and in fitness," the 30-year-old defender said.
"Time will tell, in the next few weeks we’re probably going to ramp it up even further.
"It’s exciting to see what kind of fitness levels we'll have and hopefully we can run out games really well."
Adelaide face long-time rivals Melbourne Victory in the Round of 16.