IT WAS hardly the start dreams are made of, but perhaps yesterday we at least got the slightest glimpse of life under George Burley.

Hopefully not the result, not even the performance, but the team.

Although the defence was ravaged by injuries, the youthful feel to the side was NOT totally enforced.

Burley has spoken of the crop of promising youngsters as being one of the key reasons he decided to take on the job.

Rupert Lowe has led Saints into investing heavily in their academy and Sir Clive Woodward also sees it as the way forward.

There is no doubt Burley has bought into that already and the sight of Chris Baird, Matthew Mills, Martin Cranie, Nathan Dyer and Theo Walcott in the starting line-up confirmed the point.

It has to be said that the team was outplayed by Watford, who were well worth their victory.

There is a blend to be struck between youth and experience, but with injuries, suspensions and only a day or two in charge, Burley has hardly shown his best hand yet.

Nevertheless, it is a wink towards where Saints are set to head.

The message at Saints now is quite clear. It's execution has been quite brutal.

You either want to play a part in Rupert and Clive's new vision or you have no part to play.

January is, of course, almost upon us and it will be interesting to see if there are any more upheavals.

On the back of coaching staff being axed, there may be a few unhappy players, a few who don't buy into the new ideas.

The message to them will be the same as it is to everybody else.

The whole process may not be an instantaneous thing.

As has been said here over the past few weeks, there is a long-term vision in operation.

Sad though it is, building is going on for next season.

If, somehow, Saints could sneak into a play-off place this season that would be great for people at the club.

If they could go up, even better.

But most are surely resigned to the odds now being stacked against an immediate return to the Premiership.

As such, the job now is to build ready for next season - because in 2006/07 Saints simply HAVE to get promoted.

If not then it's goodbye parachute payment, goodbye top players and goodbye to the remnants of a Premiership club playing in a lower league.

Burley will know his brief and, though these things can never be guaranteed, in many ways it could suit the club better to fully prepare for life back in the top flight.

There is a lot of work to be done before getting too carried away down that road, though.

The game at Watford yesterday proved that.

The Hornets are a decent, tidy team.

They show what can happen when fans, players and the club buy into a dream.

In this case it the dream of the manager, Aidy Boothroyd, and they are buzzing as a result.

They are a team built on hard work, commitment, organisation and a little talent as well.

But, to be blunt, they are hardly world-beaters. To do well in the Championship, you don't need to be. You just have to have the above qualities and a bit of confidence to be able to win matches.

Burley's young side looked a little ragged, understandable, and a little disorganised at times. No doubt that will change after some work on the training pitch with the new manager.

Watford took the lead on 29 minutes when Paul Devlin's right-wing cross was headed in at the far post by Darius Henderson, who was given far too much time to finish.

Four minutes before half-time they doubled their lead, this time Henderson winning another ball in the air to play Anthony McNamee's free-kick across goal where Clarke Carlisle finished from close range.

The third goal came just after the re-start, the unfortunate Tomasz Hajto turning into his own net with his first touch after coming on as a sub.

Saints only two good moments in front of goal.

The first came in the first minute when Ben Foster saved from Brett Ormerod. Then on the hour Foster saved from Walcott in a goalmouth scramble before Dyer hit the bar with an overhead kick.

Despite this result, though, Burley's world at Saints is going to be an interesting place to be.