MARK APPLEGARTH does not want to compare this year to last too much but it is fair to say he reckons York City Knights are much better set for the season ahead than they were 12 months ago - despite seeing a second friendly fall foul of the weather.
The Knights' 2015 preparations were sent into disarray by the community stadium saga that not only rendered the club homeless but also left them without a training base and needing to borrow venues and carry equipment to and fro in order to have any sessions of note.
With that situation now cleared up and the Knights being able to plan and put into practice proper preparation at their new long-term training centre at York St John University's Haxby Road facility, Applegarth - veteran prop forward and assistant to head coach James Ford - is hoping the team can reap the rewards on the pitch.
That was to start with their belated first outing of the year away to Featherstone tonight only for that game to be called off due to a waterlogged Post Office Road pitch.
It was a second such call-off after the club's scheduled opening friendly of the year against Hull FC at Bootham Crescent on January 3 also fell foul of the weather.
"I don't want to compare too much to last year with me, James and the rest of the coaching team, but we feel a lot further ahead of schedule with the (training) facilities having been sorted out," said the 31-year-old, a steadying influence on the pitch throughout last year as the team came so close to the League One play-off final despite the off-field turmoil.
"We're looking sharp. We've made a couple of tweaks to some patterns of play and are really happy with how the new blokes have come in and adapted.
"We just need to start putting it all into practice in a game situation."
The Knights' one remaining pre-season fixture, unless they organise another run-out, is against Castleford Tigers next Friday night, January 22, at Bootham Crescent (7.30pm).
"We're looking forward to getting out there. It will be a very good test. We were looking forward to the Featherstone game but it obviously wasn't to be.
"We want to focus on our performances and how we're developing, making sure the movement we've been working on in training will come off and work well in a game situation and that everyone is happy with the play book.
"Everyone was disappointed when the Hull game was called off and it's the same again with this Featherstone game being off. We want to get out on the field and put a few things from training into practice in a match, but there's not really much you can do about the weather.
"What it does do is give us another chance to get some good-quality training done and get ready for the Castleford game.
"Playing a proper match is something you can't replicate fully in training but I am sure we will have a good session instead."
A statement on Featherstone's website last night said of tonight's cancellation: "Following a pitch inspection by an RFL match official this afternoon (Wednesday) at 4pm, our pre-season friendly against York City Knights which was due to take place on Thursday evening has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch."