Tommy Elphick is refreshing old habits under Gus Poyet.

The clock has been turned back to the Dean Wilkins era as Albion try to improve their defensive record.

The Poyet mantra is collective rather than individual responsibility, just as it used to be under Wilkins.

Centre-half Elphick revealed: “We are working in twos and threes, certainly me and Adam El-Abd together when the ball is on that side of the pitch and then, when it gets transferred, me and Tunny (James Tunnicliffe).

“We have been getting great help from the three lads (midfielders) in front of us as well and Elliott Bennett, who is the unsung hero in all of it. He is defending more than ever and doing a great job for us.

“I think it is a very modern way of defending, where as previous managers like Russell Slade and Micky Adams were about getting tight to your own man and getting into people’s faces, defending more one v one.

“We are certainly looking to cover each other’s backs a lot more and do it as a team, keeping the ball down one side of the pitch.

“I was used to doing that under Dean and it is a case of refreshing old habits.”

The goals against record under Poyet so far reads 1-0-3-4-2-2-0-2-2, with 11 of the 16 conceded against the leading quartet of Leeds, Charlton, Norwich and Colchester.

It is going to take time for his defensive methods to bed in, particularly as the opportunity to get his message across on the training ground has been limited by first a flurry of fixtures and now the weather.

While in general play Poyet advocates collective defending, he prefers man-to-man rather than zonal marking.

This has been the subject of great debate this season in the Premier League, where the defending has often been poor, and it has meant an adjustment for Elphick’s partner, Tunnicliffe.

The former Stockport County giant said: “The way the gaffer wants us to defend is a lot different from what we were doing under Russell.

“I like the way he is teaching us but it is new for me. I’ve always picked up zonally but the gaffer likes us to be man-to-man, which is fair enough really.”