Ever since he assumed control of Tottenham in the summer, André Villas-Boas has been given relatively short shrift when making the assertion: "We are almost a new team."
The apparent reluctance to accept his claim is, in part, explicable from the perspective that the players most associated with his predecessor Harry Redknapp's style of play, wingers like Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, remain as influential as before.
There's also the awareness that Tottenham failed to bring in João Moutinho, the playmaker so identifiable with Villas-Boas's philosophy and his own success at Porto.
The perception that nothing much had changed and that this was still the team of old, however, was misguided. As Villas-Boas pointed out after Tottenham's come-from-behind win against QPR, which, incidentally was their first of the season at White Hart Lane, he was without several players once considered key under Redknapp.
For instance, Emmanuel Adebayor, Scott Parker, Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto were injured. Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart left the club and Ledley King had been forced to retire.
By anyone's standards that's a lot.
Of the six new players signed, only one - Gylfi Sigurdsson - did a full pre-season and it mustn't be forgotten how protracted Adebayor's permanent move from Manchester City was either. Moussa Dembélé joined on August 28, followed by Hugo Lloris and Clint Dempsey on transfer deadline day, by which time the season was already two games old.
One of the themes of Villas-Boas's press conferences has been that the players need to get "reacquainted" or, in some cases, simply get to know each other in the first place. With that in mind, it was perfectly rational and only fair that Villas-Boas be given time to implement his ideas. A month or so after the transfer window closed, they appear to have been absorbed.
While Tottenham's first win away to Manchester United at Old Trafford since 1989 will understandably be the highlight of the season so far among the supporters, Sunday's 2-0 triumph at home to Aston Villa was, perhaps, their best all-round performance.
Earlier in the campaign, there was a pattern to Tottenham's games. They'd start well, then fade in the second half and concede a late goal. It proved to their cost against West Brom and Norwich, as Tottenham drew games which they should have won.
Villas-Boas touched upon this again after the Villa match in order to underline the progress that has been made since. He said: "We noted that we had the chance to start [the season] well and we didn't get the results we wanted in the beginning, but we're getting consistent now."
His biggest satisfaction was that, for the first time this season, Tottenham "managed to play both halves with the same intensity." That stems from improved fitness levels, but above all greater understanding.
Villas-Boas spoke of how "we welcomed the packing of the fixtures because it allowed the players [to] meet more often and more quickly get to know each other and we are benefiting from that fact."
It does seem that everyone is now beginning to grasp what their role is within the team.
The turning point can be traced back to the second half against QPR when Villas-Boas replaced Sigurdsson with centre-back Steven Caulker, moved Jan Vertonghen - who had been partnering William Gallas - to left-back and pushed Gareth Bale up on that wing. Clint Dempsey then shifted across to occupy the position Sigurdsson had relinquished behind striker Jermain Defoe.
After handing QPR the initiative in the first half, inviting their opponents onto them so space might be left in behind for a series of counter-attacks, Tottenham instead played higher up the pitch after the interval, were a lot more aggressive and overturned the 1-0 defeat in prospect to a 2-1 win. That second half may on reflection prove to be the foundation on which their season is built.
What was interesting after that match was how, rather than attribute it to a tactical shift, Villas-Boas spoke in terms that appealed to English stereotypes, highlighting how "the desire made a big, big difference."
Often harshly typecast in England as a coaching equivalent of Napoleon Dynamite, sketching out a Liger on one of his notepads or chalkboards to the incomprehension of those around him, the slightly geeky caricature of Villas-Boas shouldn't overshadow the Machismo he brings to the touchline.
When he's not wolf-whistling, as though participating in a sheepdog trial instead of a football match, he prowls the touchline, hands down by his side, unclenched as if poised to draw a pair of pistols from his belt.
To some, it's nervous tension and there's certainly an element of that, but to others it's the personification of the all-consumed, fully engrossed intensity with which he wants Tottenham to play. If Villas-Boas were on his own in acting like this there's a chance he might not be taken entirely seriously but in this regard he is complemented by his assistant, Steffen Freund.
Their shared mentality is worth discussing further. Villas-Boas has sometimes cut an isolated figure in England. Remember how Porto wouldn't allow his trusted assistant Vitor Pereira to follow him to Chelsea a year ago. He had to start afresh and form a new staff, convince the makeshift backroom that his ideas were valid and have faith that they would support him unreservedly.
The suspicion that this wasn't the case at Chelsea was further aroused when Villas-Boas was fired and replaced by his No.2, Roberto Di Matteo. Whether it was a betrayal or not, to some it was a stab in the back. "Personally I don't like it at all when the manager gets sacked and his assistant stays in charge," Gianluca Vialli told Talksport back in March. "I thought they were a partnership."
From the outside looking in, the unity of purpose between Villas-Boas and Freund appears total. Maybe that - in addition to the presence of first team coach Luis Martins, fitness coach Jose Mario Rocha and head of opposition scouting Daniel Sousa - is why his concepts have been accepted and are being applied with relative success.
Tottenham have stood out in a number of ways this season. As one might expect with Bale and Lennon in the side, they have been exceptional on the counter-attack, leading Europe's top five leagues in fashioning 16 attempts on goal from these situations. This owes a lot to their ability to win possession. Only Chelsea have recovered the ball on more occasions in their own defensive third than Tottenham (185 to 172) and it's perhaps no coincidence that these teams have scored the joint most Premier League goals on the counter this season (3).
But as we've already established, Villas-Boas isn't the kind to set his side out to sit back. He wants his team to play high up the pitch and win possession in their opponents half. No central midfield pairing has recovered possession more times than Sandro and Dembélé (a combined total of 91 times) in the Premier League this season, and the screen that they provide has contributed to Tottenham conceding the second fewest shots in the division too (71 to Manchester City’s 68).
All of which doesn't completely explain why Villas-Boas has witnessed his team win their last five games in a row in domestic competition, but it does give a sense of what they're doing right.
There are a number of encouraging signs for him ahead of his first confrontation with former club Chelsea, which comes after the international break. "For us it will give us a chance to finally break into the top four and join the elite in the Premiership," he said. For Villas-Boas it will maybe bring final redemption and the acceptance in England that he by now deserves.