Gus Poyet has warned Sunderland they cannot afford to be caught cold after the international break for a second time if they are to dig themselves out of trouble.
The Uruguayan was given a stark picture of what lay ahead for him in his first game in charge of the Black Cats last month when they were trounced 4-0 at Swansea days after his international players had returned.
They head for Stoke today having given their survival hopes a major boost with a fourth successive 1-0 victory over Manchester City last time out. However, Poyet knows that will count for little if his side does not come flying out of the blocks at the Britannia Stadium.
He said: "After the last international week, it was my first game and we were destroyed by Swansea, and if we didn't learn from that and go with a different kind of approach to this game, then it's going to be very difficult to get out of the bottom.
"We need to make sure we don't repeat that and that we go with more confidence, showing how we want to play, being more competitive and make sure we get a result.
"Sometimes things happen for a reason and let's hope that that one was a good wake-up call."
Since the debacle at the Liberty Stadium, Sunderland's form has improved dramatically and they have won three of the four games they have played in all competitions, two of them in the league.
However, they remain deep in trouble in 19th place in the table with just seven points from their first 11 games and still three adrift of safety.
Poyet is still without suspended duo Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena, but otherwise has no injury problems.