Bristol will return to action this weekend – 74 days after their Aviva Premiership dream was extinguished for another year – and Adrian Jarvis feels they have already made big improvements.
Bristol, who host Newport Gwent Dragons in a pre-season friendly at Clifton RFC on Sunday (3pm), recruited for the coming season with the Premiership in mind.
Instead, they will face a sixth successive season in the Championship, but fly-half Jarvis feels the signs are encouraging ahead of the new campaign.
"We haven't dwelled on last season," said Jarvis, who appeared from the bench in both legs of Bristol's Championship play-off final defeat against London Welsh.
"There are a lot of fresh faces here now who didn't experience that – so it's been pretty good from that point of view and we're just ready for the new season. Last season is very much in the past now.
"A lot of quality players have been brought in, and they haven't needed too long to fit in and really get going with our game-plan and the way we want to play.
"We are constantly trying to improve as a squad – and I think we have already made some big improvements from last season to this season. Now we can't wait to go and have a crack at Newport."
Sunday's match has been moved from Ashton Gate – where Bristol will take up residence this season – to the club's training ground at Clifton RFC.
The switch was made following expert advice recommending that the newly-laid DESSO pitch at Ashton Gate would benefit from an extended period without rugby being played on it.
"It's an exciting time for the club – and moving to the new stadium is a big part of that," said Jarvis. "It would have been nice to get out there before we play Worcester in the first league game – but if we can't, then we can't.
"Hopefully we will get to do a team-run on the pitch at Ashton Gate, or something like that, before the season starts.
"We can't wait to get out there now. Pre-season games are about getting out there and putting on the pitch the things you have been working on and seeing where you're at.
"Sunday's game will no doubt show us a few things we need to work on, and also a few things we are doing well. That is what these games are all about."
Jarvis, 30, will face a fresh challenge for the Bristol number ten shirt this season, following the arrival of Welshman Matthew Morgan.
Nicky Robinson will also continue to compete for the starting fly-half role – and Jarvis said: "You want competition, because it means you have to play well both to get a start and keep your shirt.
"That's exactly what you want as a professional rugby player – to know you are going to be challenged – and that kind of competition is driving our whole squad forward.
"With a key decision-making position such as fly-half, it's good to learn from each other as well, so Morgs coming in with some new and fresh ideas and experiences is really good for the whole environment."
In addition to Morgan, Bristol have signed players such as Ian Evans, Jack Lam, Anthony Perenise, Dwayne Peel and David Lemi for the coming campaign.