It's been 11 years since Stoke City last began a promotion campaign and one of the heroes of that side, Liam Lawrence, believes Stoke have the players they need to emulate that success.
Following the signing of Tom Ince, combined with the addition of James McClean, the former Stoke winger believes they could have a duo as iconic as himself and Matthew Etherington.
After a long turbulent season under Mark Hughes, Stoke fans are pining for some of that character that defined the club a decade ago.
The grit and spirit that earned the Potters promotion in 2008 and saw them triumph against the Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City in an impressive first campaign in the Premier League.
Speaking to the Sentinel, Lawrence said: “I like the look of James McClean and Tom Ince - and fingers crossed there’s a bit of the old Liam Lawrence and Matty Etherington about them.
“McClean can certainly wear out that flank at both ends of the pitch and Ince is a proven top-end Championship player, one who can give you quality delivery and useful goals.”
Lawrence and Etherington were instrumental in the implementation of the foundations laid by Tony Pulis. So can McClean and Ince replicate the success of Stoke’s former glory?
Ince can certainly replicate a similar role to the one Lawrence played in Stoke’s last promotion campaign. Cutting inside from the wing and providing a genuine goal threat from the edge of the area.
Lawrence finished as Stoke’s joint top scorer that season with 15 goals, a total Ince has already reached twice in his career. McClean meanwhile will offer plenty of energy and determination on the opposite flank.
His direct impact on the game still leaves a little to be desired and Stoke will need to see him grabbing his fair share of assists next season. He does boast a decent international record for Ireland in that department, if Gary Rowett can get more of those performances out of him he could prove his worth.
In truth Stoke could probably still use another winger of first team quality, it’s a department they’ve been lacking in since the departure of Marko Arnautovic. Competition for places will be a healthy thing for Stoke in that position, with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting also currently still at the club.
At the moment it looks unlikely Ince and McClean will deliver in the same way as Stoke’s former heroes but then neither of that duo arrived to spectacular acclaim either. Lawrence was a fringe player at Sunderland whilst Etherington’s time at West Ham had become overshadowed somewhat by a gambling addiction.
Pulis built a side out of players who misfits at other clubs, with the squad once being compared to Battersea Dogs Home. The Potters will have a much more favourable platform for promotion this time around and both McClean and Ince will have key roles to play.
They may not quite be what some fans were hoping for but it is a huge step in the right direction for the club.