Rory Delap feels Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Hajduk Split is down to the fitness levels of the players and the hard work put in by the coaching staff.
Although they began to tire towards the end, Stoke dominated for much of the game and, particularly in the first half, had several chances to extend their lead.
"The pre-season has been hard but it showed it's been worth it," Delap said.
"It's the first time I've played in July so credit to the manager and his staff that we were ready for it in such a short space of time, although every one of the lads came back fit."
The match was not only Stoke's first of the season but also their first in major European competition for 37 years.
"I thought our fans were tremendous and their fans also created a real atmosphere," Delap said.
"I thought we played well and were a bit unlucky to come away with only a 1-0 win.
"I don't know who are the favourites. We are in the lead at the moment and it's half way.
"They will be looking to win the game at home but if we play the way we did here we should come away with the win.
"We want to do well in everything we're in, in the league and every cup.
"This is a chance we're not going to get too often if we're honest, so we have to make the most."