TORONTO -- In spring training, the Red Sox talked about turning the page on the team's nightmarish September, when the Sox coughed up a 9 12 game lead for the wild card spot and were eliminated from the post-season on the final night of the season.
Worse, there was the residual ill will that came after details about the team's clubhouse comportment, none of which endeared them to the club's loyal fan base.
But while focusing on purging the memories from last fall, the Sox have stumbled out of the starting gate again, unwittingly inviting comparisons to another part of the 2011 season -- the beginning.
A year ago, the Sox endured the worst start to a seasson in franchise history, returning home from their first road trip winless at 0-6.
This year, they come back to Boston only marginally better at 1-5.
That hardly qualifies as improvement or a step forward.
"We're not playing good right now," lamented Jon Lester, who took the loss Wednesday, but deserved better. "We haven't put it together right now. Nobody in this clubhouse wants to start slow, regardless of years past. We said last year, it's a long season.
"We're going to show up on Friday and keep grinding it out. That's all we can really do. Obviously, this isn't the way we wanted to start. Nobody wants to start this way."
It's scant consolation, but the Sox are at least more competitive on their first trip than they were a year ago. The Sox had a chance to win three of the five, which wasn't the case last April.
"It's just as frustrating,"sighed Adrian Gonzalez, who hit two balls to warning track Wednesday, but was hitless. "It's a whole different season, a different team than last year. But yeah, (we've been more competitive). Two of the three games in Detroit we were right in them. If I remember correctly, we got beat pretty bad in Texas.
"We've been in games. We've been right there at the wire and haven't been able to overcome it. We've got to get that key hit, that two-out RBI, whatever it is, to get us over the hump."
After a day off Thursday, the Sox have their home opener, hosting the Tampa Bay Rays in the first of nine games on the homestand.
It's unclear what sort of reception they'll get Friday from a fan base still smarting from last fall's debacle and further frustrated by the results of the first trip.
"I don't know,"said Lester when asked what he expected. "Hopefully it's good. Hopefully they see that we're grinding it out and leaving everything on the field. Nobody's half-assing anything here. Nobody's half-assed anything in the past. Hopefully, it will be a packed house and they'll get the same things they've gotten in the past (from the team)."
"I think we have the greatest fans in the world," said manager Bobby Valentine. "We'll find out."