Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes hopes Scottish football can continue to take positive steps towards a return to competitive action.
The Dons returned to full contact training at Cormack Park on Monday after the initial two weeks of pre-season were socially distanced.
The SPFL and SFA recently confirmed Scottish Government ministers had formally approved full contact training for Premiership clubs could begin on Monday.
It is another major step towards the emergence of Scottish football from the Covid-19 shutdown.
McInnes is working his squad towards the SPFL’s targeted August 1 restart for the Scottish Premiership and a Europa League entry on August 27.
After months of uncertainty during the outbreak Aberdeen now have a clear route marked out for a return to action.
McInnes is delighted at the recent progress made but accepts there must also be caution.
He said: “In the last four weeks we have come quite a long way bit by bit.
“Hopefully we can continue to keep making these small steps.
“Four weeks ago everything was still a little up in the air.
“Although we are not back to normality yet and not out of the woods we have taken big strides to get to where we are now.
“A lot of things are now starting to take shape.
“We have Europa League dates, the Premiership fixtures coming out soon and the draw date for the Europa League (August 10) is settled.
“Now we have some dates to look forward to in the calendar.
“If we take ourselves back four weeks ago, we would have taken that.
“We didn’t think it was going to move as quickly as it has done and there is a lot of encouragement for the season to be started as planned.
“However, clearly we still have to be mindful of the climate we are living in at the minute.
“We know that things can change quite quickly.”
Scottish football was shut down at all levels on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When Scottish Minister for Sport Joe Fitzpatrick met the SPL and SFA Joint Response Group on May 29 the football authorities initially proposed July 16 for the resumption of contact training.
However earlier this month the Scottish Government were asked if that time-frame could be accelerated.
After careful consideration the green light was given for the resumption of contact training on Monday supported by appropriate public health measures including regular Covid-19 testing.
Aberdeen players had previously trained on their own for three months due to lockdown restrictions and social distancing.
Eventually they returned to socially distanced training a fortnight ago at the £13million Cormack Park training facility.
Last week Aberdeen made the first signing of the pre-season by securing Jonny Hayes on a two-year contract.
Due to the financial hit of the Covid-19 crisis the Dons have projected losses of £10m.
Hayes, who was a free agent having left Celtic, agreed to defer his wages for a year to push through a return to Aberdeen.
Now that contact training has resumed Hayes and his new Dons team-mates are stepping up training intensity as they work towards that August 1 Premiership restart.
McInnes said: “We have to be mindful of the fact that it will almost be five months from the Hibs game (3-1 win on March 7) to the first the first game of the season.
“The players have had a longer break than they have ever had.
“What we did was use the first two weeks to build them up to get players really ready to what they would normally come back for a pre-season.
“Then we would use that last month to get them tuned into game related practices.”
Another major development in recent week is the growing hope supporters can return to stadiums in limited numbers earlier than initially anticipated.
Aberdeen are not expecting to have full crowds back at Pittodrie until January next year.
However McInnes is optimistic that further changes to social distancing guidelines could yet allow some fans to attend games when next season kicks off.
He said: “It is ongoing and it is ever-changing.
“We are planning for not having full crowds back in until January but that may well change.
“A fraction of supporters being allowed in I think is a real possibility but it is all dependent on what is happening in society.
“If we go down to a 1 metre rule that might allow stadiums and clubs to be allowed to cope with a certain amount of supporters in.
“I think that would be fantastic.
“Although there is pay per view and Sky have allowed clubs’ season tickets holders to watch games, supporters are desperate to get back in and watch their team.
“If we can get that moving as well that would be another bonus compared to where we were three or four weeks ago when we thought that just wasn’t going to be possible.”