The Blues are back. After their first pre-season loosener – a 5-1 victory at Penrith – what can we take from their opening 90 minutes of the summer?

Here are a few conclusions…

1. Good things come in threes...

That, at least, appears to be the early thinking when it comes to Carlisle’s defence.

Three centre-halves was the way forward for Paul Simpson last season, and it was the chosen approach at Frenchfield Park too.

In the first half, it was Morgan Feeney, Max Kilsby and one of United’s trialists. In the second half, Jon Mellish, Corey Whelan and Jack Ellis formed the rearguard.

Things may have shifted and altered a little more freely going forward, but at the back – where Simpson still wants additions – sticking with the shape Carlisle know may be the order of the day.

2. It’s not how you start but how you finish

In which case, good news for the likes of Ryan Edmondson and Kristian Dennis.

Edmondson has taken 34 minutes to score for his new club and as such won’t have to spend a moment longer in pre-season wondering when he’ll break his duck.

Dennis, meanwhile, took advantage of a tiring home side by finding space in the box to do his thing. He did so clinically.

Then there were the impressively-struck goals by Jordan Gibson and Nic Bollado.

Granted, the opposition were from several levels down. But the sight and feeling of ball hitting net this soon won’t harm anyone in a United shirt, especially those for whom goals pay the bills.

3. Ball of the night

A few yards away from Owen Moxon, on the other side of the fence at Penrith, stood his former Annan Athletic manager, Peter Murphy.

What he saw presumably won’t have been any surprise. For those less familiar with Moxon’s attributes, the assist for Kristian Dennis’s first goal was the most eyecatching moment of the night.

It was a perfectly sighted and weighted diagonal ball which begged to be controlled and finished, which Dennis duly did.

Moxon’s first contribution in the shirt of his home city club was, therefore, a good one, and his distribution was a feature of a brighter and more penetrative second half team performance.

All the more reason to look forward to the Cumbrian testing himself against higher standard of opposition soon.

4. Kids are alright

Kudos to Kai Nugent, Ryan Carr and Nic Bollado, three youth team players who Paul Simpson integrated into the senior set-up last night.

All three did enough to justify Simpson’s intrigue.

Nugent was a busy and prominent midfield performer in a tight first half.

Carr showed drive and penetration down the right after the break. And Bollado supplied an eyecatching finish for United’s third goal amid a strong attacking display.

This is how you hope young players will take to things around more established team-mates. It hopefully bodes well.

5. Questions in the air

There is, in the end, only so much you can take from such an exercise.

In the goalkeeping department, for instance, little more will be known about Tomas Holy and United’s trialist than was in place before the game.

Nor can the other trialists – in defence and attack – be properly judged on the basis of this single run-out.

What we do know is that United’s players seem fit, sharp and driven on by the serious and determined man in the dugout.

What we don’t and can’t know from one game at Penrith is how they’re going to knit together as a (hopefully) better team than in 2021/22.

Five players didn’t feature last night due to knocks. More signings are hopefully on the way.

This was not a night for every last issue to be resolved. A good fitness exercise, and some early pointers, will do for now.

6. Big boost for Penrith

The Frenchfield Park club deserved the excellent crowd they got last night: 1,040, the best attendance for such a game for some time, and an immediate revenue boost.

Bar takings also appeared healthy, judging by the number of pints and bottles going down on this Friday night.

Clubs at Penrith’s level are, in many cases, hand to mouth. There is very rarely any slack, any leeway, when it comes to making the various ends meet.

Yet Penrith are a proud and committed club, invariably friendly hosts and a place it is important for Carlisle to engage with and respect in the way they do.

This was a positive start to their summer build-up too, then. The ample support saw to that, and hopefully Darren Edmondson can make things tick on the pitch too.

He fielded a young side, with many trialists, and in the first half Penrith played tidily and doggedly, before Carlisle opened up after the break.

The very best of luck to him, and them, as they head towards another Northern League campaign.