ROVERS are preparing to face reality as the new season is about to kick off and we begin life in the Football Conference.

Gasheads never imagined that grim scenario would ever happen but after a few seasons of struggle in the lower reaches of League Two, the trap door finally opened for the Pirates.

There is little point in looking back to analyse what went wrong and who is to blame, as we are better served focusing on the challenges that await and working our hardest to get back in the league as quickly as possible.

Recriminations and post-mortems have been held throughout the summer and now is the time to move on.

Darrell Clarke has been allowed to shape his squad and, with numerous departures and arrivals, it will be a largely new-look team that takes to the Memorial Stadium pitch on Saturday as we face Grimsby.

Hopefully we will be more of a threat up front than last season, with Jamie White and Matty Taylor looking to mark their mark.

Ryan Brunt is also nearing a return to full fitness, which will come as a huge boost to the side as he looked a player capable of great things before injury curtailed his impact last season.

Clarke has been looking for players with proven experience at Conference level and hopefully his strategy will serve us well as the season progresses.

The pre-season has hardly been auspicious, with results generally poor, but as triallists are being given a chance and new players are settling in, the games mean little until the serious action gets underway.

It will be vital to get off to a good start on Saturday lunchtime in front of the BT Sport cameras as we aim to put a marker down for the season and turn the Mem into a fortress.

Other clubs will see Rovers as a scalp and raise their game accordingly so we have to be ready for that.

A winning start against the Cod Army will help to dispel some of the doom and gloom amongst supporters and raise hopes that we will not be in the Conference for too long.