Barry Middleton, the GB men's captain, said ahead of his side launching their quest for an achievable medal against Argentina tonight that the philosophy of the way the team plays has been overhauled in an attempt to "sell the sport to the country".
Middleton, who with Ashley Jackson is one of the genuinely world- class players in the GB ranks, has been at the heart of a new attacking attitude. Middleton, who has described himself as a "Michael Owen with a stick", acknowledged that a GB side who are not the best in the world must be at their absolute peak to win gold. Coach Jason Lee attaches huge importance to the mental side of the squad's game, which has been developed in the past four years. Lee also said no-one should expect his charges to play anything like Sean Kerly's 1988 Seoul Olympics gold-winning team.
"I jokingly say that a lot of those players [from 1988] couldn't play nowadays because the physical competencies of our game these days are so different," said Lee – who wasn't joking. "Our sport is unrecognisable from what it was even four years ago. The players are travelling an extra 20 per cent on four years ago and that's matched by every nation."
Lee's philosophy will see him dispense with his goalkeeper if GB find themselves 2-0 down towards the end of games in the Riverbank Arena. "Some countries do this more than others. It depends how risk-averse you are," he said. "Because we have been orientated to do our very best we have become less risk-averse. We are trying to win the thing rather than just do our best."
GB's penultimate opponents as they seek to advance with a top-two place in the six-strong Group A, are the favourites Australia. "They've just got an exceptionally strong generation of players and that's largely what makes the difference," Lee said.