The dress rehearsal is over. The mistakes and missteps will have far more significant meaning as of Sunday night for the Giants when they play their first game of the 2013-14 regular season versus the Dallas Cowboys at AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

If preseason results foreshadow what is to come for the Giants, then they will be mediocre over the next five months or so. Their 1-3 record is certainly not a definitive assessment of where the Giants are headed. Yet it did reveal some areas of concern, many of those issues the result of injuries. For the Giants to be successful Super Bowl contenders, a strong pass rush, a sturdy offensive line, an effective running game and consistent big play connections from the combination of Eli Manning to receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are paramount. If any of those components are not operating proficiently, the Giants will find themselves in a similar status they occupied last season: on the periphery of the postseason.

“I think every year we are going in feeling good about our team,” said Manning earlier this week. “I think we are talented; it’s just going to be a matter of how we react to certain situations, and that’s usually the difference between a successful year or not. Some of those close games, can you pull them out?

“You’re going to have those games where everything goes great, and you want those, but sometimes we’ll have a time where things aren’t going so well for a little bit or you get off to a slow start. Can you bounce back and find a way to win those games when you’re not playing your absolute best?” Manning asked, a question that was directed at both himself and his compadres.“That’s what we’ve got to see about this team, how strong we are and how we’re able to finish the fourth quarters of games and finish the season.”

Manning’s Socratic take on the fine line between the Giants achieving a fruitful season or falling short of their goals is poignant. Clearly, by missing the playoffs, the Giants were on the wrong side of that fine line last season.