MARK HUGHES was able to draw plenty of positives from Sunday's opening pre-season encounter against Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach in Southern Germany.
The Potters claimed a creditable draw from the encounter, courtesy of Peter Crouch's second half strike after Belgian starlet Thorgan Hazard had fired the Europa League hopefuls in front two minutes after the interval.
Despite the German side being further ahead in their preparations for the forthcoming campaign, Hughes was pleased that his side were able to stand toe-to-toe with their opponents - especially given the fact that it was his side's first outting since the summer break.
"They have been back in training for a couple of weeks longer than us, but I wouldn't suggest that was too evident at all to be perfectly honest," the Welshman told Stoke City Player after the full time whistle.
"In terms of the fitness levels from our lads I thought they all stood up to the challenge really well, and they have all come through the game as we were hoping they would.
"Up to this point we had previously just been doing work out on the training field, with one or two 30 minute matches, so this was another step up for them today.
"We were able to give all of the lads 45 minutes with the exception of Daniel Bachmann, so that was pleasing.
"We will gradually look to build it up further over the coming weeks, possibly look to get a number of them up to 60 minutes on Saturday and so on."
He added: "It's all about making sure that the lads are getting the right amount of quality work in and making sure that they are ready for the first game of the season against Aston Villa."
The game also gave Hughes the opportunity to cast his eye over summer acquisitions Mame Diouf, Steve Sidwell, Phil Bardsley and Dionatan Teixeira for the first time in Club colours.
"They all did well out there, and to be honest they have slipped in to the group with ease which is always pleasing," he added.
"Of course, with time, they will develop an even better understanding of what the other lads can do and what we are trying to achieve on the pitch, but they are all good footballers and they have certainly added to the qualities that we already had within the dressing room."