Frustration is growing on the terraces after the Whites failed to make the progress expected during December, taking just seven points from a possible 21.
The year ended on a sour note as table-topping Leicester City inflicted a 5-3 defeat at the King Power Stadium, prompting a sobering statement from Freedman as he looked towards 2014 with a measure of pragmatism.
Wanderers are nine points off the play-offs and seven above the bottom three – but the bigger picture shows a club who are in the final year of their maximum parachute payments from the Premier League and having to cut their cloth to fit.
Freedman believes the reset button has been pushed at the Reebok and the club at which he is now in charge is a completely different prospect from the one that dropped out of the top flight just 18 months ago.
“We have to realise very quickly where we are and what we are trying to achieve and build towards that – not where we used to be,” he told The Bolton News.
“We have to make sure everyone understands that. We are a club that has got to start from the beginning again and make sure the people who come into the building are good enough and aspire to getting up to the next league."
The manager refused to be too downbeat after the defeat at Leicester and is likely to again shuffle his pack as Wanderers welcome Middlesbrough to the Reebok Stadium tomorrow.
Chris Eagles, Darren Pratley, Joe Mason and Mark Davies could be brought back into the line-up – while the manager is also looking for significant defensive improvement.
“I can’t be too down, you know what I am like,” he said. “We went to Leicester and scored three goals, so that in itself is a positive.
“Our approach play and the goals we scored were of the very highest quality and I genuinely believe that if we can get some resilience at the back, then we have got goals in us and we’ll score against anybody.
“At Leicester we came up against a team who were better than us in attack and we couldn’t hold them out because of some very sloppy mistakes that cost us in the end.
“I haven’t got any complaints. We gave a decent account of ourselves in the first half and it was a good pointer to what we have to do.”