THE text from City flashed up midway through the second half at Odsal.

“The Farsley game is off tomorrow,” it read. “The pitch is rock solid and it’s too much of a risk to play it.”

Edin Rahic may have claimed to control most things during his Valley Parade reign but it seems last summer’s heatwave was beyond even his remit.

So, it meant frantically tapping out a 9pm announcement of a late postponement for a game due to take place the following midday; while simultaneously keeping an eye on the second half of the Bulls and Newcastle Thunder.

They say multi-tasking is beyond most men. In this instance, chaos reigned amid the particularly blue air in one corner of the rugby press box.

But that little episode set the template for the month that would follow.

It’s an oft-repeated phrase among football managers; so frequent in fact that most supporters tend to shrug it off with a “whatever”.

“He needs a proper pre-season behind him” is the mantra regularly trotted out, usually with a player who has arrived mid-term or one who sat out a large chunk of the previous campaign with an injury.

But we saw the evidence with our own eyes last year about what happens when pre-season is fractured, if not downright farcical.

Under-cooked, under-prepared – and ultimately under-performed.

Like a marathon runner whose preparations had consisted of a couple of jogs around the park, City were found out on the first lap. They didn’t even make the home straight.

Their seat-of-the-pants approach to the build-up was the textbook “how not to do it” approach. Coaches will look back in years to come and laugh at the Bradford way of 2018.

Remember there was no fitness coach until Robert Lossau briefly flew back in. The German took the odd session, smiled a bit and then left again a couple of weeks into the season.

The fixture list itself read like a case of ringing around to see who might fancy a game.

“We’ve been let down by the Red Lion for next Saturday, mate, so if you want to step in? We’ve hired a pitch and one of our lads can ref.”

If Farsley, and the late call-off, was embarrassing enough – and the pitch did not stop the home side staging a full training session at game time – what can you say about the 7-2 humiliation at Harrogate?

A fortnight before the league opener, when most clubs are in fine-tuning mode packing minutes into first-team legs, and Michael Collins fielded a virtual under-21 team.

The reason? They didn’t want to risk any seniors picking up knocks on the artificial surface.

The same artificial pitch that the National League team were playing on when City first put in the call about staging the friendly at that time. You couldn’t make it up.

So, come the first day of real action, and surprisingly that did go to plan with a false dawn at Shrewsbury, none of the established players had seen more than a game and a half of pre-season football.

It was a recipe for failure – and that duly played out in what felt like one of the longest campaigns on record.

This time feels very different and not just because there will actually be a game tomorrow at Guiseley.

Gary Bowyer has talked about a structure to pre-season and the planning that has gone on behind the scenes to get it right.

Everything has been designed with the Cambridge game four weeks from now in mind, raising the tempo and creating that momentum to hopefully reach the season’s curtain-raiser in optimum shape.

As Bowyer pointed out, there is a camaraderie growing within the group - which is more than can be said for last year.

Shay McCartan has noticed a different club from the one he left at that stage for his loan at Lincoln.

Then, there was a group effectively trying to get away from the stifling control of the chairman who was always at the training ground.

Now the Irishman sees a close-knit dressing room all starting to look out for each other and developing that bond that will be so important in the months to come.

Good pre-season results do not guarantee success. Often it can be the opposite case.

But a solid, well-run, well thought-out warm-up schedule will lay the right foundations. It appears that City have rediscovered a sense of direction.