Tony Mowbray was a spectator the last time West Bromwich Albion met Ipswich Town.

When the former Portman Road favourite sees his new team take on his old employers at The Hawthorns this Saturday, it will be with a much-changed mental outlook.

Mowbray can be forgiven for thinking he had hit the jackpot when he watched Albion steamroller the Tractor Boys 5-1, having been announced as the Baggies new boss less than 24 hours earlier.

That victory was Albion's best since they famously won 5-3 at Manchester United, exactly 28 years this coming Saturday.

It hinted at great things to come, especially when they won at Crystal Palace three nights later.

But the Baggies have not won away from home since then and although their form at The Hawthorns is impressive, with nine goals in two games, Saturday's visit of Mowbray's former club acts as a timely reminder as to where he has most work to do in 2007.

The meeting will stir up plenty of happy memories, but Mowbray already has one eye on the trip to Southend United on New Year's Day.

"First and foremost, it was important to stop losing on the road," he said. "We've done that.

"We'd actually have had more points if we'd won one and lost one, but we're now five games unbeaten and we have to build on that.

"We're aware of the fixtures coming up and there are clearly opportunities there for us."

What is more, Albion have a real chance coming up to make the most of those opportunities.

Whereas Mowbray's first four away matches threw up the challenge of teams who had embarked on good runs - Albion travelled to Birmingham City, Derby County, Stoke City and Sheffield Wednesday - the Baggies now face three successive away matches, against the Championship's bottom club Southend United, Leeds United and Hull City, that are winnable.

"There are no easy games but there are games coming up which, if we are right and play to our strengths, are winnable," agreed Mowbray.

"We've had some tough away games, we've lost against teams who have been doing well but I still expect us to be more competitive away from home."

It explains why Mowbray will still go into the January sales looking for more steel to accompany the array of talent he already has at his disposal.

Much depends on whether he can offload one or two of his more marketable assets who are not currently in the starting line-up.

Zoltan Gera tops that bill and the latest speculation linking him with Bolton Wanderers, against whom he scored in both home and away games two seasons ago, is no surprise. Yet Mowbray insists that any New Year reshuffles are simply a question of fine-tuning.

"I'm happy with the play-ers we've got here," he repeated. "It's just the balance of the team that's not quite right.

"We don't necessarily have the players to dig out results on a tough day when we've got to fight our corner.

"That doesn't mean I'm going to rush out and buy several lads who are 6ft 4ins as I also want good footballers but we need some players who can win the scruffy games without losing the openness and flair to over run teams."

It certainly helped on that afternoon in Suffolk that Albion were up against a team with a reputation for artistry and flair.

"I am well aware of the proud tradition they have at Ipswich," said Mowbray.

"They certainly play an open, expansive game which gives you the chance to play. Not many teams play that way in this division. A lot play it very tight, try to condense space and base their game on winning the ball back rather than being creative when they have it. Ipswich come into the other category."

But Ipswich may have learned their lesson and will be boosted by their Boxing Day win at Coventry. Mow-bray, therefore, is the first to warn that anyone turning up at The Hawthorns expecting another five-goal haul may be jumping the gun.