“That’s our goal, by September 1st, that you can look me in the eyes and say ‘When I look at everything, and I take all the emotions out, this is actually a stronger squad, a deeper squad than we had last year.’”
Those were the words of Saints chairman Ralph Krueger as he faced up to widespread criticism of the club’s summer transfer policy.
At that stage all the headlines were about players leaving, rather than arriving.
Looking back now you almost forget some elements of the most turbulent transfer window in the club’s history.
For instance, it’s almost been forgotten now that Saints lost their highly successful manager in the closed season, such was the tidal wave of further hurdles they have had to overcome.
Then it was star striker Rickie Lambert, captain Adam Lallana, young jewel in the crown Luke Shaw and soon to be England squad member Calum Chambers heading out.
Morgan Schneiderlin also looked as though he might join them, while the future of Jay Rodriguez seemed to be in doubt too.
For a while it seemed as if St Mary’s was sinking.
But then came the rejuvenation.
No team can ever stand still and, as wonderful as the past five years at Saints have been, things had to change at some point.
Let us not forget the foundations of the side that finished eighth last season were laid many years ago by Alan Pardew.
It was he who signed many of the players that endured, and he who engrained a winning mentality into the squad that they have kept to this day.
Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino of course added their own twists as time went on, but a good many of the signings since Pardew’s day have failed to usurp those he brought in.
When you hear of Manchester United and Alex Ferguson talk of having to rebuild a team, even sometimes at their seemingly most successful, it is because time doesn’t stand still.
It was inevitable that Saints were going to face a time where they had rebuild.
Maybe they might have hoped it would be a little more gradual than it has proven to be, but nonetheless it was going to happen.
To be blunt, the squad they had needed serious investment to have a chance of retaining eighth place this season, let alone progressing, a point many seem to have overlooked.
The player sales were, without doubt, painful.
The tone was set with Rickie Lambert, and after that it was always going to be this way.
At least, when the crunch came, Saints proved they were no pushovers.
It would have been easy to have just allowed Schneiderlin to have followed out the door but enough was enough.
Though some would have argued that you should always look at the bigger picture, Saints were adamant all summer that each player sale on its own merits was the correct move for the club.
Those arguments are justified, though there is an admittance around St Mary’s that they could have handled it a little better by being a little more open at the time, but those are lessons they have quickly learned.
With plenty of recruitment now having taken place, and deadline day finally having passed, it is time to see what we are left with.
It is a new Saints, a reborn Saints.
Since the turn of the year so much baggage has been swept away.
An executive chairman has gone and a new era heralded there, a new manager who has done nothing other than impress is now in place, and now a new team.
So was Krueger proved correct after all?
Well there are two main issues to address from his statement. One is whether Saints have a stronger squad, the other is whether it is deeper.
It is easiest to analyse the depth, and in that respect there is little doubt Krueger is correct.
As well as the star names listed, Saints have also dispensed with Lee Barnard, Guly do Prado, Jonathan Forte, Billy Sharp, as well as loaning out Jos Hooiveld, but since they were never figuring anyway that is of little consequence.
The only real extra surprise on deadline day was Gaston Ramirez moving to Hull, just days after Koeman had ruled out a move away for the £12m man and there had been much talk about how this might finally be his breakthrough year.
In total Saints have effectively raised more around £90m by selling five of their best players.
In turn they have reinvested around £60m in signing eight new faces, Saphir Taider being excluded from these lists entirely after his bizarre 26 day stop at St Mary’s.
The maths is pretty simple then. There is more meaningful depth to the Saints squad because they have only brought in players that are going to add genuine competition at first team level.
And, in terms of reinvesting the money they brought in, the numbers are pretty close too.
Saints have spent about £60m, plus a couple of no doubt reasonable loan fees.
Krueger always said it would be a mixture of wages and fees, and so it is likely that Saints have spent or at least committed the majority of what they have received, especially when you consider they lost a quarter of the money for Lallana to Bournemouth too, which means their real cash intake was nearer £85m.
The far more subjective area is whether they have a stronger squad.
By stronger you are effectively meaning better, which therefore has to lead on to being better on the field.
It is a hard judgement to make, mainly because we cannot possibly call it after just a few games, and with a couple of the new faces having only just arrived at the club.
It is perhaps more useful to look at it area by area.
There can be no question that Saints are better off when it comes to goalkeepers.
Fraser Forster is a great acquisition, and is without question an improvement, so all good there.
At the back Saints look pretty good too.
At left back they lost Shaw, but in Ryan Bertrand, even if it is initially on loan, they have covered the teenager’s departure well.
With all due respect, a club like Saints do not have to have the best left back in the world, but they do need a competent and experienced player who will perform consistently well at the top level. They have got themselves exactly that.
In the other full back position it was always a battle between Nathaniel Clyne and Calum Chambers anyway. It’s not a battle any longer, and Toby Alderweireld adds brilliant cover.
The centre of defence has seen the departure of one big name in Dejan Lovren, but the arrival of two potential stars.
That Saints got £20m for Lovren was a good bit of business when taken in isolation. He had only enjoyed one decent season in the Premier League, and Saints fans will recall he was not at his best either for the final third of the campaign.
That centre half unit of Jose Fonte, Florin Gardos, Alderweireld and Maya Yoshida looks, on paper at least as we are yet to see two of them in action, very solid.
In the defensive midfield areas there is no change.
Ronald Koeman showed his leadership qualities by somehow keeping Schneiderlin at the club and getting him to focus again on playing for Saints.
Then you have Victory Wanyama, Jack Cork, Steven Davis, Harrison Reed and James Ward-Prowse as potential options.
It is probably the attacking areas which took the biggest hit.
With Rodriguez inured, and Lambert and Lallana departing, it left some big boots to fill.
That’s where a total combined investment of around £44m on Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic, Shane Long and Sadio Mane has come in.
The big worry at Saints has been where the goals are coming from, but Koeman has equipped his squad with a host of new signings to try and deliver some serious firepower.
In effect, they lost two players in those roles, albeit their star turns, and have brought in four new faces, with Rodriguez still to come back in too.
Again, the proof will be in the goalscoring charts at the end of the season, and whether Lambert and Lallana have been missed or not in that respect.
But it is again evidence that Saints might actually have done pretty well in a tricky situation.
What’s for sure is that it is not the apocalyptic summer that some were predicting when the sales were at their height.
This is a very different squad, under a different manager, and playing a slightly different way.
Things are new and fresh and, Krueger would no doubt say, exciting.
He might well feel ready as he wakes up this morning to look people in the eye and tell them he has delivered on his promise.