EVERYONE knew this was a new Barnstaple Town but the extent of the transformation has now become clear.
In the finest display by a Barnstaple team for many years, they made a better start to the Toolstation Western League season than anyone could have wished for.
After all the despondency on and off the field, it was not so much a breath of fresh air that blew through Mill Road as a tornado of positivity.
And it picked up and tossed aside Corsham Town as Ryan Turner's hat-trick, two goals from Maksym Kowal and one each for Lee Francis, Billy Tucker and Scott Sharp left them on the end of an 8-1 thrashing.
It was the sort of position Barnstaple have been on the wrong end of too often – last season they were beaten 7-0, 8-0, 9-1 and 11-0 on their way to relegation from the Premier Division.
By half time they led 4-1 and were so keen to get going for the second half they were on the field a good three minutes before the referee had even poked his head out of the changing room door.
No surprise, given how likely a goal seemed every time they went forward. Double figures would not have been out of the question.
Warren Crossley, the chairman, settled for eight. "I came thinking if we could get a scrappy 1-0 I would take it," he said.
Crossley was on the right side of the fence on Saturday, having been among the substitutes for Barnstaple's final home game of last season, and no one was out of place on the field.
Jack Jenkins and Sam Stephens looked as though they should have been playing at this level for years, while Ryan Draper, Aaron Harper-Penman and Darren Hawkings have been.
In Turner and Tucker, Barnstaple have brought back from Ilfracombe Town two of North Devon's best young talents, and in Kowal, the Canadian striker, they have found a player surely too good for the Western League First Division.
Before we get too carried away – when can you get carried away if not after an 8-1 win on the opening day? – there is a rider. Corsham were woeful.
They arrived late after making the age-old error of not leaving enough time to get to North Devon on a sunny August Saturday.
They were in disarray in defence every time – and it was often – Barnstaple hit them on the break.
And only twice did they genuinely threaten the home net. The first time brought their goal and the second inadvertently led to one for Barnstaple.
Barum will face sterner tests and probably did in last night's match at Chard Town. But with the pace and movement of Turner, Kowal and Tucker, a goal will never be far away.
It took just five minutes for the first to arrive on Saturday.
Lee Francis, who had a fine game pulling the strings in midfield until injury forced him off in the 66th minute, knocked it in at the far post.
Liam Brown equalised on 11 minutes when he swept in a loose ball while Barnstaple appealed for a handball.
But Kowal put his side back in front five minutes later when he seized on a deflection off defender Ryan Tyrell.
Draper was beaten again after 30 minutes but Daniel King's curled free kick pinged off the inside of his left-hand post and within moments Kowal had crossed from the right wing for Turner to turn the ball in.
The striker then rounded goalkeeper Tony Brown to score again three minutes later.
Eager to get going after the break, Barnstaple had to wait just 10 minutes for the fifth.
From another break, Turner drew Brown and slotted in the club's 4,000th Western League goal.
It also brought him a second hat-trick in four games, having netted a treble for Ilfracombe against Buckland Athletic on April 29.
It was Turner who was brought down for a penalty and Tucker who dispatched it for 6-1.
The seventh came after Kowal and Turner combined on the right. Kowal stayed on his feet when clipped by a defender, danced inside another tackle and bent a fine finish around the keeper.
That was the best goal. The eighth was the most fortunate.
Sharp, on from the bench, slid in to challenge Corsham's Matt Windle and saw the ball arrow past Brown into the top corner of the net.
What more proof could Crossley need that the new squad he and manager Tom Bulley had put together was good enough?
"I gave a bit of a speech to the players before the game and said, 'Me and Tom have worked hard to get you here. You have been telling us you are good enough, it is down to you now'," he said.
"It was fantastic. There won't be a person who has left here who didn't enjoy it.
"It's just one game, there are still 41 to go, but the signs are very promising."