Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill admits it's difficult to gauge whether the team is improving given their dismal run of results.
Sunderland have won only two league games all season, and just one on their own pitch, and the manager knows until performances start to yield points, it is difficult to claim progress has been made.
He said: "Progress eventually, no matter what you think about it, is determined by results on the pitch, and we are in a similar position, so you could say whether we have made that sort of progress or not.
"It's interesting because it's really the same squad that we have had - we still have, I think, about 19 players from last season.
"The spirit is still there, and that was the thing I noticed most, really, that it hadn't been broken, and that spirit should stand us in really decent stead.
"But spirit alone is eventually not enough. Of course you need to add and we need to get stronger if we can."