Following the optimism of the summer months, the first 90-plus minutes of the competitive season failed to spark into life at Lakeview Park on Saturday as Portadown and Loughgall served up a derby draw.
It left both camps searching for Bluefin Sport Championship opening-day positives off a scoreless draw that lacked significant talking points.
"It was a scrappy game with no urgency, a stop-start match," said Portadown manager Matthew Tipton. "We've got to be better, especially with our movement in the forward areas.
"We didn't seem to want to create anything, we were living off scraps and we have to do better in a tight game like today.
"We were, bar the goalkeeper and back four, too much on our heels for the first hour then we picked it up a bit.
"But when we looked ready to build momentum something stopped the flow of the game.
"But we've a clean sheet, which we didn't keep too many of last season.
"The forwards have been superb all of pre-season but we drum it in they've got to anticipate rather than react.
"We didn't do enough in the final third but that's all something to address and we go back to the work on Monday ahead of Tuesday night's first home match."
The Ports now entertain Ballyclare Comrades on Tuesday at Shamrock Park, with Loughgall hitting the road to tackle Newry City AFC.
"A draw was probably a fair result after a nip-and-tuck game without too many clearcut chances for either side," said Loughgall boss Dean Smith. "From our viewpoint, we were solid, really good defensively and off the ball.
"We asked the players to give everything, they did and I'm delighted for them.
"We work them hard in pre-season and asked an awful lot of them during that period, with players doing their own stuff as well.
"We've our own gym with a physical trainer attached, so a lot of the guys are doing extra sessions there outside of our own team training, so the credit goes to them for that and you can see it paying off.
"Every team wants to get off to a winning start of course but if that doesn't happen then the next goal is to avoid defeat.
"We've done that so now look forward to Newry on Tuesday night.
"Pre-season games can be a bit fake so we don't focus on results too much, good or bad, but everything done in that period was building towards today's work and we're delighted with that work."
LOUGHGALL: Buchanan, Kerr, Rea, Brennan, Lyttle, Ferguson, Malone (Hoey, 79), Dallas (D.McCullough, 87), Gibson, Campbell, Douglas.
Subs (not used): Ferris, S.McCullough, Copeland.
PORTADOWN: Edwards, Hall, Crane, Finnegan, Lavery, Salley, Duke, Wilson, Carmichael (Bradley, 56), McNally, Teggart.
Subs (not used): McCallum, McGrandles, Tipton, Ferris.
Referee: Christopher Morrison.