Aberdeen midfielder Jonny Hayes is counting on head of sport science Graham Kirk making the difference when the Dons start their season on July 3.
Kirk was largely credited for helping St Johnstone peak for the early rounds of the Europa League qualifiers last season before departing McDiarmid Park for Pittodrie and Hayes is already putting in the hours for Kirk to ensure he is ready for the first tie next month.
He said: “Kirky sent out a programme that started last Monday. It is a lot harder then I thought it would be.
“The club have got a partnership with the David Lloyd Aberdeen so they are in there doing running three or four times a week.
“It is what you would be doing at the club without having to come in. It is a hassle driving to the gym every day but I am normally finished by midday.
“I am sure he will know how to keep teams ticking over and when to peak.”
It is clear Hayes is a paid of member of the Kirk fanclub at Pittodrie and it seems the Dons’ head of sport science has quickly won admirers within the dressing room.
Hayes said: “You can see the effect he had on us last season with the number of late goals we got and our fitness in the last 15-20 minutes.
“He helped Peter Pawlett, Mark Reynolds and myself. He gave us programmes individually and it really worked.
“This season is going to be even more important because our pre-season will only be three weeks long and then we have the European game and then the league starts.
“It is hard because he has to keep the players motivated as well. If we don’t have a game we can’t go old-school where we run and run.
“But Kirky listens to us and how we are are feeling and he adopts things accordingly. We all get on well with because he is a top guy who is very professional and he earns respect.
“He also has the interests of the team at heart and I can’t speak more highly of him.
“I’ve seen the benefits from before when there was no sports scientist. He also came in after pre-season, which is the biggest thing for fitness.
“This will be his first full season and I am sure we will be fitter and stronger.”