Nigel Clough says he could take plenty of pre-season encouragement from the way Burton Albion matched West Bromwich Albion in Wednesday's 1-0 defeat.
Tony Pulis' Baggies secured the Bass Charity Vase - with Burton losing it for the first time since 2011 - courtesy of Jay Rodriguez's 77th-minute header after a close affair.
Things were tight throughout the 90 minutes, with both defences largely cancelling out the other side and chances at a premium. Rodriguez curled an effort just wide in the first half - before going on to grab the winner - and Nacer Chadli hit the bar for West Brom, while Lloyd Dyer drove just over and Liam Boyce narrowly missed out on turning a Marvin Sordell cross home.
The game was an entirely different contest to Burton's 3-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon five days previously, when the intensity was much higher and players' time on the ball shorter.
And Clough knows that those different sorts of tests are the best way of preparing his side for the start of the Championship season on August 5.
"It was very encouraging considering the standard of the opposition," said the Albion boss.
"They had a top-10 finish in the Premier League last season, West Brom, so we were very encouraged by some of the performances tonight.
"We still have a couple of players out, but the team we had out there competed extremely well, and we lost to a set-play, which is probably one of of West Brom's strengths.
"It certainly was a test (for the defence) - but probably not as much as Wimbledon gave us on Friday night as well.
"It's a great contrast between the way that teams play.
"To go to Wimbledon and the way that they were, high energy, and then you've got more of the technically-gifted players that you saw on show tonight.
"It's a different way of playing, different way of defending.
"You look at their patience tonight, and the movement.
"They won't have as many attacks against you as Championship or League One clubs maybe will, but when they do, they are quality, and they will unlock your defence with that bit of quality at times.
"You've got England internationals like Jake Livermore, Jay Rodriguez cost a few quid - so you've got some excellent players on show.
"But I thought we competed very well against them."
Despite the quality of their opposition on Wednesday night - including the irrepressible defence coming from the likes of Jonny Evans, Ahmed Hegazi and Craig Dawson - Burton produced some eye-catching passages of play in possession.
Regardless of their opponents throughout the summer, there has been a focus on retaining a pace with the ball between the midfield and the final third.
And Clough hopes that playing to that standard against a well-organised Baggies side will pay dividends in the Championship next term.
"I think we have shown glimpses of that so far in pre-season - that's how we like to go about it," he added.
"We'll keep trying to play as we did at times tonight.
"I hope that Championship teams will be a bit easier to break down than West Brom!
"And I think the lads want to test themselves.
"You see the difference. Some of their interceptions - Jackson Irvine had six or seven passes which we nearly got through.
"I think they'll get through against Championship teams, but they (West Brom) just read them, or they're half-a-yard quicker, or they're stronger.
"You look at them physically tonight and there is a big difference as well."