I agree with Brian Clough, who once said that if you’ve got fewer than four leaders in your team going to an away game then you might as well not bother getting on the coach.

That snippet, taken from Tony Adams’ second autobiographical tome, Sober, charting his personal struggles following a decorated playing career, would seem pertinent given the current direction of travel at Norwich City.

Adams was reflecting on the importance within any changing room at any football club of the ‘cultural architects’; the tone setters, the ones who, with or without a captain’s armband, are the most vocal. The ones who gather others around them through a force of personality, as much as their ability on the pitch.

That was implicit within David Wagner’s dissection of the mentality issue that dragged City into a mid-table Championship finish last season.

Read these quotes from the German. “Mentality is very important, and you hope that is already within a team. If you have to build up that mentality it is much more difficult.

“We have to open their minds to embrace new things, but not everything is new. It is football. It is an easy game. You play on a green pitch, one goal you have to defend, the other goal you have to attack.”

Words spoken not as Norwich's head coach, but on his first day in the charge at Huddersfield back in 2015. That underlines how much importance he places on not only the technical or tactical abilities of his players but their temperament and character.

Shorn of Grant Hanley, Kenny McLean and Ben Gibson down the stretch last season Norwich were too often rudderless and buffeted by events. We all recall how the wheels came off on a night of carnage at Middlesbrough, as the goals rained in on Teesside.

The Pink Un:

We heard the same theme from Wagner again as he plotted the response to a poor league placing.

“If you bring in experienced players they know the situations that can happen, and they are still calm enough to maybe accept a setback and continue what we are doing. First and foremost, I think, this group needs mentality.

"Needs energy, needs characters who are able to stay strong in situations where maybe something goes against you. But this doesn't mean it can’t be a younger or older one. If he has these topics as a character, he is the right one for us.”

The signings of Ashley Barnes and Shane Duffy are the visible representation of Wagner’s words. To take Clough’s mantra literally, to try and ensure you have those ‘four leaders’ when they embark on a Championship quest that at face value gets harder with each renewal.

Certainly no other conclusion can be drawn this time around ahead of Thursday’s fixture release, given the size of new clubs who arrive from above and below in the English pyramid.

If it is a numbers game then City’s recruitment of two players in the 30 and above age bracket swells their contingent to six outfield players. But the reality is captain Hanley is unlikely to return until 2024 after his season-ending Achilles injury.

Adams was himself a lionheart of a centre back in a very different era, but such fundamental traits remain vital even in the modern game for a head coach like Wagner.

The Arsenal legend took Clough’s words in his book and applied them to that giddy summer of Euro96, and England’s thrilling run to the last four before the heartache of a Wembley penalty shoot out defeat to Germany. Gareth Southgate’s spot kick, Gazza’s despairing stretch and all.  

The Pink Un:

For Adams the catalyst was not a leadership group on the pitch but their head coach, Terry Venables.

“He made a big call in taking the England captaincy away from David Platt and giving it to me. Terry wanted a lot of leaders in his side – Paul Ince, Stuart Pearce, Alan Shearer – and thought that I could best mediate and control them.

"You need to be a secure enough figure, as Terry was, to have so many strong characters in a group.

“The people you are looking for are those who get into training first, who will set standards, morals and morale. They will spot situations, such as unhappy players, and lift them. You need role models.”

That Wagner is willing to supplement a group he inherited with big characters like Barnes and Duffy is also a signal of his own self-assurance.

The City head coach wants more, not less, of the personalities who may challenge and question him but do not shrink when they encounter stiffer head winds.

Norwich’s overall transfer strategy will become clear in the fullness of time, as pre-season gives way to August’s kick-off.

Only then can one judge if the remedial work to an unbalanced squad is good enough, but one suspects a weak mentality is not a charge you will be able to level this time around.