A HUGELY encouraging performance from York City against Championship outfit Middlesbrough on Tuesday was a sweet note on which to finish their pre-season friendlies at the LNER Community Stadium.

The Minstermen fell behind inside a timid opening six minutes but grew into the contest against a side four tiers their senior, taking a deserved lead into the break thanks to goals from Mackenzie Heaney and debutant Mark Beck.

And City, particularly impressive on the ball in midweek, deservedly kept Boro at arm's length in the second half to seal a 2-1 win.

Here are five things we learnt.

1. City suit a 4-4-2 formation

That manager Steve Watson lacked a plan 'B' to his favoured 3-5-2 formation was not an uncommon complaint from the last two seasons. Now, there is a case to be made for the 3-5-2 becoming the plan 'B'.

Three excellent games against high-class opposition have shown York have the players to work effectively within the more widely used 4-4-2.

Heaney's goal against Boro is a fine case in point. At the start of the move, Heaney, Akil Wright and Paddy McLaughlin all dropped back into defence, each pulsating out and back in to alternately apply pressure and fill in the gaps before McLaughlin won the ball.

From there, York broke with patience and numbers, and when Scott Barrow delivered the final ball into the Boro box, he had plenty to aim at. There were two big target men in the middle and Heaney, McLaughlin and Olly Dyson hovering around.

2. There is plenty of confidence in possession

Between McLaughlin poking the ball away from Jamie Paterson and Heaney's volley hitting the back of the net came 36 seconds of possession broken up only by glanced touches and a foul, which was smartly let go by the referee.

The second goal was even better. Unhurried, City pulled Middlesbrough out of shape with 22 passes in 81 seconds of entirely uninterrupted back-to-front possession before Beck headed home another Barrow cross.

3. The games are getting closer but are still not the real deal

It was hardly a side of kids and fringe players that City faced for most of Tuesday's game, but it is equally hard to imagine Boro were going all-out at this stage (their fans will hope so, anyway).

For York to have done very well against a Newcastle side barely out of first gear and a Boro side who posed a sterner test bodes well, but blood-and-thunder National League North games against hungry sides are another matter entirely.

4. Pre-season is vital not just for the team

These three home games have given the club chance to work out logistical kinks at their new home. Judging by complaints of ticketing queues on social media, there may still be one or two to iron out by August 14.

5. Watson has great options in goal

Pete Jameson has been the man trusted between the sticks since his signing ahead of the 2019/20 season. He made a few high-profile errors last season but has shown his continued worth in pre-season with some outstanding stops - including penalty saves against Sunderland and Boro.

Ryan Whitley, just 21, proved against Sunderland he will be an able deputy and last week's addition of 18-year-old Maison Campbell sounds like one for the future. He may get a run at Ossett United next Tuesday.