Every single season Jim Gannon has managed us we've improved and finished higher up the table. True, and as long as he stays the course, he will again, even if we finish bottom. Jim is not the issue. Following every single one of our promotions only once have we gone straight back down. Irrelevant.
Only position on the park we haven't bought a replacement in is centre-half. Stott is several levels above what we have, and dismantling the midfield by dropping Keane back is no solution to the problem. We have replaced Warburton and Duxbury, players with proven ability, with unproven youngsters that would still have raised eyebrows had they been recruited as back up for the NLN. I am looking forward to seeing both, but it is a step backwards.
In pre-season we comfortably beat a playoff/title chasing side from the division below, and a team from the division above. Pre-Season results mean nothing. The players look fit and ready, that is all you would hope for and a positive.
We have momentum, positivity, a winning habit, and a team that has played together. We don't, those players will/should back their own ability, but anyone who has played football at any level will know when they look around that dressing room and there are 4 players of the quality/influence/productivity of Stott, Duxbury, Warburton and (awfully) Stephenson missing they will know they have got problems. I must admit though I like your use of the 0 prerogative to say, "I'm not being pessimistic, I'm being realistic". Fair enough.
Time will tell, but I strongly believe you're going to be wrong. Belieeeeeeeeeeve. How very Brexity of you.