Last season they provided a welcome breather for Ipswich fans - much-needed respite, a chance to lick wounds and rejoice in the rarity of a weekend not ruined by football.

This year, however, the early hiatus proved a pesky, unwanted nuisance.

While others played, Town fans were idle, without a game and forced to endure the tedium of England-Bulgaria.

No wonder then that excitement is mounting heading into this weekend's 'crunch' (I say tongue in cheek) clash against fellow high-fliers Doncaster.

It's third against seventh and another early-season gauge as to which side has the staying power to stick in the promotion mix.

Will Town's lay-off have an adverse affect, in terms of their momentum being pricked? I doubt it.

The break may have been frustrating for fans but I'd imagine it was welcomed by those within the bubble, especially after seven matches during a breathless August.

A weekend off at least provided an opportunity to stop and reflect on what we've seen so far.

Realistically, could we have hoped for better?

Obviously, technically, the answer is yes.

Eighteen points instead of 14 would have been astonishing, as would a victory, rather than another limp defeat, in the Carabao Cup at Luton.

But that's just being greedy.

The reality, given close-season caution about adjusting to the new level and warnings not to take anything for granted, is that it's been an exceptional first month.

Four wins from six during an unbeaten start would suggest Town are going to be right up there in the hunt for League One honours.

They're top scorers, despite having played one less than many others, and have conceded the fewest.

It's a winning combination, clearly, and the polar opposite to last season, when a brittle defence and goal-shy attack buckled under the Championship challenge.

Individuals are stepping up to the plate, too.

Cole Skuse looks re-energised, Flynn Downes is driving the team forward from midfield and, in James Norwood (five goals) and Kayden Jackson (four), Town surely possess the best strike pairing in League One.

To cap it all, Paul Lambert is a manager fans can truly relate and warm to - the most popular for at least a decade (maybe since the early part of Jim Magilton's tenure?).

Of course, it's early days and things can change.

But, for now, the sun is shining and the garden is rosey. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.

After last season's horrors, that's the least supporters deserve.