What a difference a year makes; Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale knows that as well as anyone.

This time last year, the county's former captain and their new coach had concerns that things were not quite right amongst his squad, with a few players "going through the paces".

And his concerns proved to be correct as the 2014 and 2015 county champions, who also had a title challenge in 2016, were a shadow of their former selves and finished just two points above relegation in the County Championship.

After the season, the players accepted their failings and vowed to put things right.

Now, on the eve of the new campaign, Gale is far more content with life and confident the White Rose will bloom again in 2018, starting against champions Essex at Emerald Headingley today.

“I’d say the biggest difference this year is the hunger and desire," he said. “Those are the two big things. The hunger for success and the desire to perform well, both individually and as a team, is really there.

"Last year, I felt a few players were just going through the paces and took their own form for granted. And it was difficult for me to bang the drum on that because they would argue they’d had success over the years before.

“I sensed a few things were off around this time last year, but you sort of go along with it. It’s only when players reflect that they realise they were off it.

"When you give them a nudge at the time and say ‘I don’t think you are where you were’, they would argue against it. A few of them got left out on the back of that."

When reflecting upon his first year in the head coach's role, Gale said: "You are always learning and can always do things differently. But, ultimately, it’s down to the individuals.

"It doesn’t matter how much you bang the drum, they have to realise themselves. To be fair, they held their hands up and said ‘That wasn’t good enough - we have to be better’. Since coming back to training, they’ve been fantastic.

“Sometimes it takes a step back to go forwards. In the scheme of things, it might be a good thing."

Last season, Yorkshire finished their campaign with a heavy three-day defeat against Essex at Chelmsford. Approximately a month earlier, they were hammered in two days by Ryan ten Doeschate and company at Scarborough.

Gale, considering an all seam bowling attack today and will give teenager Harry Brook a place in his top order, smiled: “It can’t go any worse than it did last year against them!

"I looked at Essex when we played them and saw us two or three years ago. The togetherness they had, we probably lost a bit of that last season. It's one thing we have spoken at length about. It will be a good test for us.

"Those two defeats last year hit us pretty hard, particularly that last game because of the manner in which we finished."

What looked to be an embarrassment of riches in the seam bowling department for Yorkshire changed in three days over the weekend. They lost Liam Plunkett and David Willey to IPL deals on Saturday and Monday, while Matthew Fisher went down with a side injury in a friendly at Leicestershire.

Ben Coad is also a major doubt with a hip injury, while fringe seamer James Wainman is also nursing a side problem. Josh Shaw could be the beneficiary.

Essex are set to start with pretty much the team that won the Championship, and although Alastair Cook will be missing, they have plenty of high-calibre names in the likes of Tom Westley, Jamie Porter, Jamie Foster and Australian seamer Peter Siddle.