New Breakers coach Dean Vickerman has a simple message for those reading too much into the winless pre-season so far - don't panic, because he certainly isn't.
Far from being discouraged, Vickerman says he's cheered by what he's seen from his team as they've worked through four straight defeats.
After losing back-to-back home fixtures against the Melbourne Tigers, the threepeat NBL champions dropped games to the Perth Wildcats (91-64) and Sydney Kings (97-93) at the league's Blitz tournament over the weekend.
But scratchy pre-season form is nothing new for the Breakers who start preparations later than their Australian rivals, and are traditional slow starters.
This season that's been exacerbated by an ankle injury to starting centre Alex Pledger, the arrival of two new imports and a significant refereeing change that has caught the champs unawares.
"I'm not concerned at all," Vickerman told Fairfax Media.
"I thought we took a great step forward. In between the Perth and Sydney games our biggest adjustment was giving our offence a lot more purpose, and we came out and scored in the 90s and shot it at 61 per cent from the floor which I'm not sure we did last year in any game.
"It's just the fouling situation right now and our turnovers are too high as well, which is a combination of the synergy of the group and some detail about how we're setting screens and what they're calling."
Vickerman was without Pledger for the Wildcats game and veteran CJ Bruton played just a minute before feeling a hamstring twinge. With three players also fouling out, the coach wasn't reading too much into a thumping on the scoreboard and in the rebounding column (47-26).
A major shift in refereeing emphasis designed to increase scoring had also surprised the Breakers who were still awaiting the official memo yesterday. They committed 32 fouls in each game in Sydney and suffered massive free-throw discrepancies as a result.
"We're a team that likes to be quite physical off the ball and not let people cut where they want to cut, and we're being penalised a bit for it right now," Vickerman said.
"It's a little more of European style of game right now, and you're starting to see a little more flopping as well. They're calling a lot of contact. They want it higher-scoring, and right now it's higher-scoring by people getting to the foul-line rather than all the way to the rim."
But there were enough positives to have Vickerman encouraged heading into next week's three-game series against China's Dongguan Leopards.
Pledger's return to action against Sydney was significant (he had 16 points, five boards and two blocks), new point guard Kerron Johnson produced two quality performances (averaging 28 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and there were real signs against the Kings of the offensive fluency coming back.
"Kerron was outstanding," said Vickerman of the man stepping into Cedric Jackson's MVP high-tops. "He's quite an incredible athlete, can finish at the rim over seven-footers, and his speed was outstanding. It's clear already he really cares about the team and cares about winning.
"Having Pledger back in the lineup also showed how important he is, and how he makes our defence so much better, and we don't get dominated on the boards like we did against Perth."
So now it's back to the grindstone this week, and then three more games starting Sunday to get ready for the October 10 tip-off.
"It's very familiar territory," Vickerman said.
"We started later than everybody else, and we've just got to slowly catch up and hopefully by that first game we're in a good position."