A little over a week ago, the slogan may as well have been, "Ready or not, here come the Virginia Destroyers!"

The answer turned out to be "or not" — the hastily assembled Destroyers bowed out meekly at Las Vegas 19-6 on Sept. 26 in their season opener.

Nine days later, however, the defending United Football League champions are expecting much sharper execution when they kick off their home schedule Friday against Sacramento at 7 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.

"I'd say we only had about 70 percent of the game plan in," Destroyers quarterback Chris Greisen said of the opener, which was played a mere five days after the team began practicing. "We were very vanilla, very basic. This game we should have a much better idea of what we're doing."

But how many fans will be there to witness it? Last year, the Destroyers' debut season blossomed into a UFL success story not just on the field but at the gate. Local attendance increased each game and an announced crowd of 14,172 took in the championship game.

"I fell in love with the area, the fans and the people," Greisen said. "It was exciting to be a part of what we had.

What remains to be seen, though, is whether the league's late start — along with, until a couple of weeks ago, an uncertainty among many fans that there would even be another UFL season — may have blunted the team's ticket-selling momentum.

Fans in Las Vegas already have been slow to respond to UFL season No. 4. According to the Las Vegas Journal-Review, only 2,500 showed up at 36,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium for the season opener, and only 601 were on hand at kickoff in that same facility for Wednesday's second game, a 41-6 Locos rout of Omaha.

Furthermore, many of the headlines generated by the league in recent days have highlighted the league's shaky financial underpinning.

Then again, the UFL has always seemed like a cat on its ninth life. But Greisen said criticism of the league stops once the players take the field.

"For all the issues you hear about in the UFL, the one constant has been the football," he said. "Once you come to a game, people find out pretty quickly that the football is really good."

It's even better, the Destroyers promise, when they've had time to prepare.

"Every day we're putting more pieces together and becoming a unit," Destroyers coach Kurt Schottenheimer said. "Friday night is going to be big for us."

NOTES: The home opener also is Military Appreciation Night, and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will be on hand, and a donation will be made to the Wounded Wear Foundation in their honor. In addition, the game ball will be delivered by U.S. military veterans. For information about tickets and tailgating passes, call 757-563-3378.