Carlisle got their pre-season programme under way with a 4-3 defeat to Hibs on Tuesday. What early conclusions could we draw?

1. Steven Pressley said he has a number of contenders for the captaincy, and that keeper Adam Collin, who did not feature against Hibernian, is one of them.

Will anyone be surprised, though, if the man who led United out of the tunnel on Tuesday ends up doing the same against Crawley on August 3?

Byron Webster carried a natural authority, both in organising younger colleagues and the way he went about his defensive work. It was clear why the centre-half has played much of his football at higher levels and there was also quality in one raking, diagonal pass to Harry McKirdy.

One way or another, he will be a leader for United.

2. All these conclusions come with the major caveat that it was a pre-season game without the tightness or tension of competitive football. At the same time, there was genuine encouragement in the way several of Carlisle’s home-grown young players performed.

Pressley was laughing when, in his press conference, he described Jarrad Branthwaite as ‘the white Cafu’ for his efforts at right-back. Seriously, though, one could not fail to be impressed by the 17-year-old’s adaptability and composure in this environment.

First-year pro Josh Dixon looked adept and eager for the ball in midfield, while another pair of youngsters (Jamie Armstrong and Keighran Kerr) combined to force United’s third goal. They ended the game with a cluster of teenagers on the pitch and, while Hibs subjected them to a harsh ending, on this evidence there is substance in Pressley’s stated aim of giving youth a fair chance.

3. United’s style of play – their Plan A, at least – looked evident even in this early workout. Pressley has spoken of a high-energy style and while Carlisle’s attacking quality varied, its intent was pretty consistent.

It was an attempt to use Brunton Park’s smooth pitch properly, by trying to encourage playing from the back more times than not.

Pressley, afterwards, also highlighted the “multiball” system used: serving ball-boys with more than one ball, so they could help the game restart quickly.

This, the manager said, was helpful both for fitness purposes and to ensure a more vigorous spectacle.

4. What of the other new faces? At the back, Jon Mellish was at fault for Hibernian’s first goal but at other times looked good on the ball and showed some sharp recovering challenges – and versatility, too, when at left-back.

Full-backs Jack Iredale and Christie Elliott, in first and second halves respectively, looked attack-minded. Elliott, who performed strongly, caught the eye the most and Pressley clearly values these attributes from his wide defenders – the challenge, as things develop, will be to balance when to stay and go, and how United cover their raids tactically.

Jack Bridge scored a well-aimed goal and Carlisle will be well served by getting him in consistent positions in the number 10 zone. Harry McKirdy looks fleet of foot and skilful, plays on the edge in terms of penalty opportunities, and will bother defenders especially if his final ball or finish proves up to scratch.

Nathaniel Knight-Percival came on in defence in the second half and showed good anticipation at times, though United’s XI became less experienced and came under heavier pressure, and hence firmer conclusions were harder to draw.

5. The holes in Carlisle’s squad were easy to detect. Although they included trialists in attacking positions, the lack of a No9 was apparent.

Pressley is biding his time in this area, confident he has loan targets who will fit the bill. Another week or so and there should finally be movement, United’s manager suggested.

In the meantime, it is the one department where it must be difficult to plan in these early pre-season leg-stretchers. Pressley has spoken about drilling some of the main principles of his work into his team and squad even if they are without a couple of attacking spearheads.

There will be, though, a degree of catch-up required when strikers do come through the door – and then it will be a case of judging how they fit into Pressley’s chosen style and also providing at least some of the traditional line-leading qualities a League Two squad needs.

6. Speaking of Hope, Carlisle’s in-demand forward Hallam did not pass through his first pre-season game quietly and the question over his future remains.

Pressley effectively confirmed Blackpool as an interested party after the game, while it is known that League Two outfits have also been trailing Hope all summer.

At least the 25-year-old did not perform as if a move was distracting his mind. His goal, less than two minutes after taking the pitch, was a peach, and Hibs’ keeper denied him another shortly afterwards.

Hope, as ever, attacked from the left and, while last season’s 15-goal top scorer continues to divide opinion among supporters, there was enough evidence to suggest that Carlisle stand to lose a player of dangerous qualities and one who, in that event, will need to be replaced well.

7. United’s survivors from last season all got some pitch time, other than Collin. Mike Jones, one of Pressley’s “stabilisers”. was his reliable self in midfield, while Stefan Scougall gave a decent enough second-half showing.

In goal, Louis Gray got a 90-minute chance to show he can rival Collin and on this occasion produced some good saves but also, in the second half, Carlisle conceded at least a couple of avoidable goals.

Early days still. For the trialists, meanwhile, the window of opportunity is shorter. Isaac Buckley-Ricketts showed some fleeting moments of pace and skill, Elliott Reeves led the line hungrily without truly threatening, Miles Storey held the ball up well with a mixed bag of end product, while Tyrone Duffus had some uncomfortable moments at centre-half.

Penrith and Chester are the remaining opponents for that hopeful quartet, by which time Pressley – poised to sign a loan midfielder this week – should have his plans a little further on.