The Town boss completes a year in the Montgomery Waters Meadow hotseat today as his side welcome in-form Charlton looking to climb away from the League One dropzone.
Cotterill is still recovering from his severe battle with Covid-19, which saw him away from the club between January and June. He admits he will need more time to turn the side around due to the setback, but believes the culture around the club, as well as his permanent signings, have been a significant boost.
"It's difficult because I've only been here for sort of five months, haven't I? I'm sort've chasing my tail this year with things I'd have done last year," said former Cheltenham and Bristol City chief Cotterill.
"Just improving the culture of the place, I definitely think that's improved. And that's not any sort of slight on the previous manager - I want to emphasise that. It's changed more to how I want it, for the better.
"I work for good people. I feel like I let the club down last year by not being able to be here, that's a big disappointment for me.
"When I came back in pre-season I was easing my way back into the job, there was a lot of fitness work to be done.
"I've probably only worked four or five months here, it's been a tough four or five months, but a good four or five months trying to build that solid base. We need that before we can move."
Cotterill added: "When I came in there was 29 players, we're a better side this year, even if we've got to chop and change things.
"We've got a younger average age, the squad has got more value in it now because of younger players - I don't mean that in any disrespect to any other boys last season.
"But you've got to move the club forward if you can and sometimes you have to take difficult steps, like players moving on.
"The ones that are permanent coming in, Nathanael (Ogbeta) the back of last season, 19 and now 20, (George) Nursey, 22, Luke Leahy, who's 28, Penno, 26 or 27, Ryan Bowman's slightly older who's come in and done well. They've been good signings.
"The experience of Elliott Bennett, adding to people who have done well for us, (Marko) Marosi too."
"I think we're moving in the right directions and our recruitment has got to be right, if we're not sure we want to take someone permanently then we've got to look for loans until we get to a stage.
"We've brought good value into the club and worked with the ones already in here to improve.
"And Dan Udoh, if I look at the very first Dan Udoh nearly a year ago to the Dan Udoh now, there's a marked difference. I think that's a real bonus.
"Tom Bloxham, he's only just 18, 17 and playing – not many strikers play in our league at 17 or 18."
The manager, who has overseen 19 wins from 59 games in charge, added: "There is lots of good things to look at. We need to get a solid base, the only thing is it's going to take me a bit longer than I anticipated, but I didn't anticipate not being here and being poorly for six months, that definitely hasn't helped us."