Alan Pardew is convinced there is more to come from his Newcastle side as they attempt to rediscover their best form.
The Magpies have endured a less than spectacular start to the new campaign in comparison with their heroics last season, and head for Everton on Monday evening with some fans bemoaning their failure to significantly strengthen the first-team squad, with Europa League football exerting further pressure on their resources.
However, despite an injury crisis which seems certain to rob him of four of his strongest starting XI at Goodison Park, Pardew is confident that they will once again scale the heights which propelled them into the upper reaches of the Barclays Premier League last time around. "Yes, of course I think our team can play better - and I think we will. I think our results have been solid, " he said.
"The performances have not been as good as I would have liked at this stage. But all the teams at the start of the season, you are feeling your way and hopefully in the coming weeks, we have got some games where I think we can pick up points, and we have to start on Monday night."
Newcastle lost 3-1 at Everton on the final day of last season as their feint hopes of Champions League qualification were comprehensively ended. But they will arrive on Monday without several key men and, in particular, with three members of Pardew's first-choice back five missing.
Keeper Tim Krul is expected to miss up to three games having suffered an elbow injury on international duty with Holland, while skipper Fabricio Coloccini returned from Argentina with a hamstring problem to join Danny Simpson, who has a similar injury, on the sidelines. In addition, midfielder Cheick Tiote's calf problem, which has kept him out since the opening day of the season, shows little sign of healing any time soon.
Steve Harper and the fit-again Rob Elliot will fight it out for Krul's place with Pardew admitting the former has come to terms with losing his number one spot to the Dutchman last season and is raring to go once again.
He said: "Harps last year suffered from injury and I think the disappointment, actually, of not starting as number one. I think he is over that now and he has got his game back together, and he looks a much better presence in the goal this year. Robbie has been injured and has only just come back. Luckily for us, Robbie is available, so we have got two good goalkeepers."
Pardew has a decision to make too at the back, where James Perch is available after recovering from a neck injury. Midfielder Vurnon Anita filled in at right-back after Simpson limped off during the first half of the Magpies' 1-1 draw with Aston Villa last time out, and could be asked to start there if Perch joins Steven Taylor in the middle. However, the manager could also turn to Mike Williamson to partner Taylor and ask Perch to play at full-back.
Former England Under-21 skipper Taylor has returned to top form after injury, and Coloccini's absence means he is an increasingly important figure. Pardew said: "Yes, he is, and Williamson as well because Williamson has started the season strongly and obviously ended last season strongly. He is in good shape, so I have got no worries about him filling in. But Steven's form has been good considering he has been out such a while, and I think we have got two really good players there.