THIS week’s column starts with a quote from new boss Paul Lambert.

“I want my team to play with tempo, drive and enthusiasm,” he wrote in his programme notes on Saturday.

“I want the players to enjoy their football and I want us to give something back to the supporters.

“If we can do that, it will be fun; it will be exciting.”

Two words lurch to mind – bravo and hallelujah – and it was impossible to miss the irony of Town’s entertaining, incident-packed 1-1 draw with Preston.

After an initial flurry of positivity in the summer, fans waited five long months for some semblance of improvement under previous boss Paul Hurst.

Alas, it never materialised.

Instead, things unravelled, deep-rooted issues bubbled to the forefront and everything reached a head in the penultimate home game against QPR.

In striking contrast, Paul Lambert needed just five days, let alone months, to spark and spur his new players into action.

From his maiden press conference on Tuesday morning – a stirring, rousing unveiling – to Saturday’s crunch clash with the Lilywhites, something changed. Something clicked.

I’m not saying it was perfect. Far from it.

Town lack quality in certain areas and penetration in the final third.

They need points on the board and, significantly, reinforcements during the next transfer window.

But after what seems an age, one vital ingredient finally returned in abundance on Saturday. Hope.

Hope for better times ahead; hope that relegation – the darkest, grimmest of prospects – can be avoided.

True to his sentiments, Lambert’s men certainly did play with tempo, drive and enthusiasm.

They were confident, not fearful, and passionate, instead of feeble.

There was an energy and zip to their play, especially in the first half, and even though it didn’t glean maximum points, the performance offered encouragement for better times ahead.

Supporters now have something to cling to, rather than desperately, frantically but fruitlessly trying to find three worse teams in the division.

Canny Lambert has played a blinder in the last week.

Most managers are spin doctors. Like any politician worth their salt, they speak a good game and say the right things.

But Lambert seems truly heartfelt in his commitment to the cause and desire to restore order.

He’s brought unity back among the players (note their mass goal celebration at the weekend) and supporters (the atmosphere was markedly different and improved).

He’s showering his players with praise and cajoling and encouraging in equal measure, animated from start to finish as he danced around in his technical area during Saturday's game.

So as a starting point, this was most definitely an encouraging ‘debut’ for the Scot.

Collectively, it was heartening and some of the individual performances deserve special mention.

The three main stars were the spine of the team – centre-half Matt Pennington, who so nearly scored and then produced the most perfectly-timed of last-ditch challenges, Flynn Downes, quick in the tackle and even quicker to get forward, and in-from-the-cold frontman Jordan Roberts.

Despite being Hurst’s signing, the latter, oddly, was given precious little game-time under his former boss, restricted to just two cameo appearances as a substitute in late-August.

However, he was impressive on Saturday. Quick, strong, a focal point and most definitely worthy of another look in Town’s next game, at Reading.

Lambert and his new supporters will have been disappointed not to get three points, upset that they couldn’t protect their lead and frustrated that they couldn’t capitalise against opposition that finished with ten men and a makeshift goalkeeper (who pulled off an unbelievable save from Danny Rowe).

But they certainly shouldn’t be downbeat because if they keep playing like this, stick together and continue to improve, more points will surely follow.