Burton Albion's winning start to pre-season continued - and progress was made besides - as they secured a 2-1 win over National League side Solihull Moors.
While there were moments of sloppiness in the first hour, Nigel Clough's men showed their quality at either end, with Matty Lund's third goal of the summer nudging them in front, before Marvin Sordell tucked home the winner after a fine equaliser during an entertaining second 45.
For the first time this summer, Clough elected an out-and-out starting XI to play the majority of the friendly - and it included a new face.
Central midfielder Hope Akpan - released by Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season - was chosen to partner Matt Palmer at the heart of the visitors' midfield within hours of signing a one-year deal at the Pirelli Stadium.
That move saw him become Albion's third midfield recruit of the summer, alongside Lund and Leeds United loanee Luke Murphy.
Ben Fox and Joe Sbarra started on either side of those two in a more conventional 4-4-2 formation, with Luke Varney and trialist Matty Fryatt the front two.
Tom Naylor and Ben Turner were selected at centre-half, with Damien McCrory - a centre-back in the Kidsgrove Athletic and Mickleover Sports games - moved out to the more familiar role of left-back, while Jayden Cotterill started at right-back - Stephen Bywater returned in goal.
With the captain's armband in tow, Naylor was one of the most prominent players in the first 45, tidying up regularly at the back and providing some impetus going forward from deep when the space opened up.
As a versatile defender and midfielder, his ability to play on the ball upfield was telling and allows his central defensive partner - Turner, in this case - to stay deep and guard against any danger.
Playing in the 4-4-2, the Brewers' options to go out wide were slightly more limited - but Fox and Sbarra showed regular willing to come from the flanks and spark attacking moves infield.
Again, their experience more centrally allowed them to show quality here, and they both linked up well with fellow academy graduate Palmer to drag the Solihull defence left and right. To the hosts' credit, though, they killed off any sniff of a telling final pass.
The closest Albion would come to breaking the deadlock before half-time fell within seconds of kick-off. Fryatt - into his third game as a Burton trialist - turned well in the area and drilled a rising effort for the top corner, only to see it skim over off the bar.
Fryatt's strike partner Varney also came close, rounding Nathan Vaughan in the Moors goal after a tidy through-ball from Fox, only to see the Solihull keeper scramble across to block his goalbound effort.
The ex-Ipswich Town man then came off late in the first half, feeling his hamstring. At this stage of the summer, no risks are going to be taken with any slight niggle - and his substitution was likely precautionary.
At the other end, Solihull's number nine - one of three trialists for the home side - kept Albion's four-man defence honest, often forcing Turner and Naylor to turn with his electric pace.
Cotterill too had to stay on his guard throughout, with winger Jermaine Hylton repeatedly trying to stand him up, meaning fewer opportunities for the Albion man to get forward.
As for Bywater, his first save of pre-season was a tidy one, a flying stop to his right denying Simeon Maye with a long-range bullet.
That would be the main interaction for Albion's first-choice stopper, who was replaced by Harry Campbell at the break in one of five changes.
Stephen Warnock, John Mousinho, Liam Boyce and Lund had barely had time to get acclimatised to the full speed of the match by the time Campbell was pulled into a superb reaction save from Hylton, the winger's powerful effort tipped over well by the young keeper who has impressed with his shot-stopping ability so far this summer.
As has been a recurring topic so far this pre-season, though, Clough's side exhibited their superior fitness - albeit with plenty of fresh legs on the park - as the second half wore on.
Their openings came primarily from the left flank, with Sbarra cutting in more regularly in search of possession and twice testing Vaughan with low, curling efforts.
And once the full complement of Brewers subs were introduced by the 66-minute mark, the visitors' energy and class on the ball began to tell in equal measure.
One gorgeous, flowing counter from front to back - in which no fewer than six Burton players were involved - saw Lloyd Dyer denied by a fine Vaughan save.
But the deadlock was broken moments later when Sordell's accurate low pass across goal was diverted home via the left foot of Lund.
That was the Northern Ireland international's third goal in as many games, a promising statistic given he was signed as a goalscoring midfielder.
Not that Solihull were going to fold.
Only three minutes later, they were level, thanks to a sublime chip from Luke Benbow, the substitute spotting Campbell off his line and lifting a finish over him, to the delight of the majority inside Damson Park.
The Brewers were not to be denied a third successive win of pre-season, though.
Sordell was the man to secure it inside the last 10 minutes, although it owed much to a brilliant lobbed pass from Murphy to set Dyer away.
His shot was saved, but Sordell was on hand to tuck home the rebound.
Clough's side now head away for a few days of team building and training ahead of Friday's trip to AFC Wimbledon.
There is still plenty to work on, but things are progressing on schedule for Burton's Championship planning.