The confrontational tone may be lacking but McClaren's eve-of-season message on transfer is worringly similar to that voiced by Billy Davies this time last year (and in the last two January windows).
"We're competitive, but not where I want to be. I'm pleased with the guys we've brought in, but we need more," he told BBC Radio Nottingham.
"It's probably the most frustrating pre-season off the field for years."
While he expects his side, play-off semi-finalists for the past two seasons, to be 'competitive', the former England boss knows that the Championship becomes more competitive with every passing season as the financial lure of promotion to the top-flight increases.
The tipsters though are backing the Reds to at least repeat their feats of 2010 and 2011 and make the top six. Bettingzone's Football League preview says McClaren's work at club level 'stands up to intense scrutiny'.