You can only judge how far you've come or what progress you've made if you know and understand where you were when you started.

Think about it. If you’re trying to measure your number of steps you walk each day you might buy a FitBit (other brands are available) and see how many you’re doing now and work from there.

If you’re starting a diet, you know the weight you are now. If you’re trying to drink more water, it’s because you know the litre a day you’re managing currently isn’t enough. And so on.

Of course, many people set targets too – more daily steps, lower numbers when you stand on the scales, clearer liquid when you go for a pee.

A little over a year ago, after many years of struggling, I suffered a breakdown. I’m not mentioning that because I crave sympathy or a round of applause – I use where I was last summer as my starting point. (And let’s be honest, in this day and age, all of us should be able to say such things without fear of stigma, shouldn’t we?)

Since then I’ve measured my progress in many ways: how comfortable I feel talking about things, how often I feel less anxious, how many happy days I have, and so on.

Two big landmarks for me were finishing therapy, and then proving to myself that I wasn’t actually a bad journalist and writer. Low self-esteem and self-belief were one of my big problems, and probably always will be.

But being able to accept how bad things were, and why, has enabled me to gauge my progress.

For Watford and their fans, this summer has been a time to understand why things were utterly dreadful last season, via interviews with Scott Duxbury and some of the players.

It’s never nice to reflect on something so miserable as what we all witnessed, but I feel it’s cathartic. You reflect, you share, you discuss and then you use those learnings as the baseline from which to judge how much progress you’re making.

Away from talking about last summer, the club have also shown signs of the change in culture and approach that the chairman discussed.

We’ve got a young, impressive and dynamic manager who players have been queueing up to praise in terms of his work ethic, his coaching, his honesty and his ability to bring the squad together in one unified group.

We’ve had better communication from the club, not just via anything I’ve written but with making the head coach and players available for fan interviews, the sporting director explaining some decisions via website/social media, and even a few lines from the owner.

There were the Elton John concerts too. The club obviously can’t take credit for anything more than the venue, but believe me when I say (from knowledge and experience) that Elton would not make the statements he has about wanting to be involved in the club actively again unless he thought things were heading in the right direction.

Three excellent kits which are a very deliberate, clever and positive nod to our heritage and history, the murals that have appeared in and around the stadium, Ann Swanson’s growing involvement in the Junior Hornets and the magnificent membership packs the young fans were sent.

Okay, I’m coming to the negatives too! Pre-season results haven’t been overly impressive, and we’ve not scored many goals.

Although there has been some transfer activity, there still appears to be a reluctance to spend money on defenders (though I do think the argument of why splash the cash when we can get what the head coach wants for little or nothing is a fair one).

There may be too little transfer activity for many supporters’ likings, and the belief that the squad is already well equipped to challenge for promotion is clearly something a cohort of fans are struggling to subscribe to.

Why do the club appear to like using particular agents when there must be a million of them out there judging by the rumour count again this summer?

Then there’s the elephant in the room – will the club really stick with Edwards if the team make a slow start? Will they revert to type and make a change just ahead of an international break if results are not as expected?

We’re about to find out the answer to some of those questions in the next few weeks. We’ll need a few months to judge other aspects of the cultural reset, and it may take a season or more to be able to truly judge if the club really has changed its ways in some areas.

But one thing I learned from therapy in the last year which I found so helpful, which I remind myself of regularly and which I share with others is this: if you know where you were and you know where you want to get to, accept that the journey will probably not be in a straight line; you’ll weave around, you’ll go up and down hills and there may be times where you might have to move backwards to go forwards; just focus on where you’re heading and believe you’ll get there.

I think that’s useful right now, as we eagerly await returning to Vicarage Road to watch football, meet up with friends and hopefully rekindle our love for a club that it was easy to fall out of love with last season.

We know just how bad last season was. We saw it and suffered it ourselves, we’ve read what it was like for those on the inside.

We know where we want to get to – in the short term, a team that is clearly trying and committed which delivers good performances and results, in the longer term promotion back to the Premier League.

We’ll be able to measure our progress, on and off the pitch. Actions generally do speak louder than words, a fact that the chairman, head coach and players have all made very clear they understand as we’ve got nearer to tonight’s opener.

However, it will help us all if we can accept that the journey from where we were, to where we want to be, will not be in a simple, easy, comfortable straight line.

There will be defeats, bad performances, mistakes, things to be criticised and some miserable car/train/coach trips back home.

But if we can accept that and keep focussed on where it is we want to get to, then it does make the journey a lot easier. Believe me, I speak from experience.

Winning tonight will not mean we can put the key in the ignition of the open-top bus. Failing to win tonight will not mean we are a basket case.

Tonight is the first step anyone and everyone has to make when they are setting out on a journey. Last season was bad, we can’t deny it but we also can’t change it. The only thing the club, its staff and players can influence is what comes next.

It may be hard after so many (literally) pointless afternoons and evenings at The Vic last season, but let’s get behind Rob and the players. Let’s take the first step with them tonight, knowing where we were and where we want to get to.

We are all in this together, and the best way we can play our part in this next journey is to be loud and proud in the stands, home and away.