Carlisle United won their opening game of the season at home. This shouldn’t have been a surprise. Under Steven Pressley, it’s what they often do.

At Brunton Park under the Scot, their record is more than respectable. They have won six, drawn two and lost two at HQ since he arrived in January.

Twenty points from a possible 30 and, generally, a positive pattern. Last spring, when a promotion push had lost momentum, they still managed to do at home what many in League Two couldn’t, and sent Lincoln and Bury back down the road pointless.

Earlier, when their form had truly levelled off and they went five games without victory, where was it that they rediscovered the habit? Good old Brunton Park, with a scrappy win over today’s opponents Swindon.

Carlisle have never failed to score at home under Pressley and right now it is four wins from four. The manager’s output at the ground is superior to that of John Sheridan, who left United in the automatic promotion places but took one fewer point at home despite presiding over an extra three league matches at the old place.

Pressley, beyond doubt, has found a way to make the best of that big, fine pitch, and it was there against Crawley last Saturday at the crucial moments: breaking at pace, isolating Nathan Thomas against his man, digging for victory at the end.

Carlisle, alas, are not at home this afternoon. They are 270 miles away in Wiltshire and you probably knew where this was heading, since the County Ground is the first place where United must try not to maintain a habit, but improve it dramatically.

With a side Pressley was at pains to change last season, the quest for points on the road was the polar opposite to all that good work at home. This is reflected in the fact that Carlisle will this afternoon be seeking their first away win in nine and their first goal in five.

It is one win and three draws from nine travelling fixtures under Pressley, six points from 27 and quite clearly the area for attention when wondering how exactly United are going to work their way through a campaign of 10,182 miles.

Not since a scrambled goal at Port Vale from Connor Simpson on January 26 have the Cumbrians left someone else’s ground as winners. The run-in was certainly a tale of missed opportunities considering the scoreless defeats the Blues suffered at Newport, Tranmere, Stevenage and Grimsby, and even the final-day draw at Yeovil, when Carlisle could not find the net against the worst team in the land at a time their top-seven hopes were theoretically still alive.

It is, needless to say, a different team now. Carlisle have centre-forwards, for one thing – another to come, all being well – and a state of overall fitness which seems more to Pressley’s liking.

Much has changed in personnel and, it seems, approach. Pressley this week talked about having different options for different games and referred to two of last weekend’s subs, Canice Carroll and Ryan Loft, as tactical alternatives.

It is very early to be judging what definitely works and what does not, and the back of a first-day victory may not be the obvious place to be advocating change.

Whether Pressley sees a case for Carroll’s extra grunt in midfield, or Loft’s physical centre-forward offerings, we will discover over time – or whether, today, those who slipped past Crawley can deliver the robustness needed on enemy land.

Some of those defeats in 2018/19 highlighted both what United were trying to do and what they could not deliver. At Tranmere, they played the more progressive football initially, but after going behind had little to offer.

At Newport, they were praised by members of the opposition contingent for how they adhered to a certain method, but the Welsh side were still more powerful, more effectively direct and certainly more clinical.

We are not about to see Pressley sending it long in a bid to make Carlisle an away-day nuisance. “I couldn’t watch my team play that way,” he said in pre-season. It comes down, then, to how his high-pressing, high-energy style can be refined on the road.

The quality of players a manager can send out is always at the basis of considerations like this. League Two, though, is also a division that sometimes makes eyes at those who find a formula that defies predictions: consider Accrington and Wycombe’s promotions in 2017/18, the latter side particularly good away from home.

There was one game last spring where United showed a certain brightness: at Forest Green, where they played well enough to have taken more than a 1-1 draw. The way Pressley set them up in Gloucestershire is understood to have impressed Carlisle’s hierarchy as they studied how the manager might put together a playing blueprint for the longer term.

This he has duly laid out over the summer, in terms of recruitment preference and attempted style. Nobody is in the dark about the identity Pressley wants his team to have but how flexible that can be we will start learning today, against a side who were ordinary at home last season yet had an away record to match second-placed Bury, and got off to a successful, counter-attacking start at Scunthorpe last Saturday.

Swindon’s fans will hope Richie Wellens’ team can be just as good at seizing home initiative. Carlisle’s will settle into their County Ground seats not necessarily expecting another 4-0 – the score there under Sheridan last season – but at least a sign they are going to be more capable outside Cumbria in the second half of 2019.