After scoring his first goal for the club in this afternoon's 3-1 win over Barnet at One Call Stadium, midfielder Will Atkinson claims that the current squad is better than his Southend United group who won promotion from the division in 2015.
The 29-year-old's close range finish was sandwiched between goals from midfielder Alex MacDonald and top scorer Danny Rose as Steve Evans' men moved level on points with the automatic promotion places in Sky Bet League Two.
And after scoring in his first start since the draw with Yeovil Town in December, Atkinson revealed his belief that the quality in the Stags' squad is greater than that of the Shrimpers, who finished as play-off winners in the 2014/15 campaign.
"I'd say [this squad is] better," said the 29 year old. "Individually [we've got] better players and we've got more quality in depth as well. It's a really positive vibe in the changing room.
"We've got such a good squad here. There's players not even getting stripped on a matchday who are good League Two footballers.
"I think the manager's got a really tough job. With such a big and good squad, it's hard to keep everyone happy but I think everyone's got the same end goal, which is promotion.
"That's what everyone keeps their eye on. If they're not in the team they support the other boys. Everyone wants to play, that's natural.
"I think the manager's got a really tough job. With such a big and good squad, it's hard to keep everyone happy but I think everyone's got the same end goal, which is promotion."
"From a personal level I want to play every game but that might not happen so you just do your best when you can and hopefully you stay in there.
"I work hard every day. I've been frustrated to not be in the team but that's the nature of the game.
"I feel that I deserved my chance today and hopefully I've took it."
Atkinson is currently in his second spell at the club after enjoying a loan spell in the 2007/2008 season and today he managed to finally get on the scoresheet, scoring a second which he felt was crucial in deciding the game.
"I think it was a vital goal because at 1-0 it's (the game) in the balance still.
"I was doing a job on the 'keeper, trying to stop the 'keeper coming for the ball. I think it's Kane Hemmings [who] got a little flick and I've just reacted and toe poked it in.
"Two-nil's still a slightly dodgy scoreline because [if they get] one back, it could have been 'squeaky bum time' but the third goal really did clinch it for us. I was pleased when Danny Rose stuck that one in. It was a great finish as well.
"I think in the second half especially we played some good stuff. We had some chances, we had great situations where we got overloads, two v one [situations] down the sides and on another day, it could have been four or five-nil."
Supporters can view Will Atkinson's post-match interview on iFollow Stags.