IF PREVIOUS pre-season tours are anything to go by, today is when things really take off.

Oxford United’s players will undoubtedly be fitter after two long, hot days on the training pitch, but physical conditioning is only one element of these trips.

The full U’s in Europe experience does not truly come until you add the travelling supporters to the mix, as veterans of Wiener Neustadt and Benalmadena would attest.

That moment will come in tonight’s friendly with Middlesbrough, where – depending who you speak to – somewhere between 300 and 700 will welcome Pep Clotet’s men.

The new boss could not help grinning yesterday at the thought of such a turnout.

Dozens of clubs are visiting the Algarve this pre-season, but I’d bet not many groups of fans will be as gloriously organised as United.

Yesterday almost 30, many of whom had nothing in common but a shared love of United, braved the heat to compete in the second Yellow Army Mini Golf Open Championship.

A five-a-side tournament and quiz follow tomorrow, but before then comes the reason we are all here.

They are expected to outnumber the Boro fans at the Ferreiras Stadium tonight.

Can’t wait.