Ben Chorley believes it took Pompey 45 minutes to realise that it was no longer pre-season after they fought back for a point at Exeter.
The Blues skipper was unhappy with the lacklustre pace of the game as the home side snatched the lead in the first half through Tom Nichols.
Although Chorley insisted there had been no verbal rocket from boss Andy Awford at the break, there was a different edge to their play upon the restart.
And their dominance eventualy paid off as Jed Wallace fired home the equaliser on 74 minutes.
Chorley said: ‘We didn’t feel it was that bad in the first half but it was like it was still a friendly because it was that sort of tempo.
‘We gave the ball away a few too many times.
‘We had opportunities, but they were a bit half-hearted.
‘If we had stepped on the gas a little bit more, they would have been better opportunities.
‘The manager didn’t have a moan at half-time, he just let us know that if we picked it up and believed we could keep the ball better, we would.
‘He wanted us to pass the ball better and up the tempo and I think we did that.’
Although other good chances went begging, with Andy Barcham missing a one-on-one and Wallace firing over in the closing minutes, Chorely belives it has given Pompey a solid foundation to work from.
He said: ‘On another day, Jed scores the one at the end or Barchy scores.
‘But I think it bodes well.
‘It’s one down and 45 to go.
‘Exeter is a tough place to come to. I’ve played here five or six times and it’s always tough.
‘They keep the ball well and, as the away side, we probably had the majority of the possession.
‘I would say it’s a point gained.
‘You can’t win the league on the first day but we showed good character to come back into the game. So we can be relatively happy.’
– STEVE WILSON