By Derek McInnes' own admission, the 2022/23 season was not an enjoyable one for Kilmarnock.

The Killie boss watched on as his side comfortably beat Ross County 3-1 on the final day to secure their Premiership survival at Rugby Park. 

The Ayrshire side ended the campaign on 40 points, nine ahead of bottom-placed Dundee United and six more than the Staggies, who will now take on free-scoring Partick Thistle in the play-off.

In the end, three wins from their final five post-split fixtures were enough to avoid any relegation drama in their first season back in the top flight - the ultimate end goal for the club.

But with the dust settling on a topsy-turvy campaign, there's undoubtedly a lot of work facing McInnes if Killie are to kick on next term. 

Here are five key areas that will need to be addressed in the coming weeks and beyond...

Moving players on

The Herald:

McInnes has said himself that there will be some difficult conversations to take place over the coming days before everyone jets off for a well-deserved holiday.

Killie have 23 players who are due to move on at the end of their contracts at the start of June, including those who are on loan from various clubs.

Some will be offered new terms, and rightly so, but there needs to be an acceptance that while the current crop has got the club over the line this season, if Killie are to gain the additional 12 or 13 points next term that McInnes has alluded to, then a large portion of the group will need to move on.

There can be no room for sentiment. Fans have an idea of who they'd like to see remain and who will likely depart.

Sam Walker has certainly proven to be a solid goalkeeper at this level. Liam Polworth, Liam Donnelly, and, very recently, Brad Lyons have shown they can cut it and are valuable members of the team. Innes Cameron is still young enough to be worth another deal and others could potentially stay too.

But for all of those who will stay, there will be a higher number that leaves. It will be interesting to see the retained list.

Recruiting & assembling a smaller but better-quality squad

The Herald:

This point directly follows from the last. Once it's clear who is under contract for next season, it will obviously be apparent just how many signings are required this summer. 

Killie ran with a huge squad this season, with several players who have barely featured and have either been forgotten about or farmed out on loan.

Assembling a core squad of around 18 better-quality first-team players, and taking the numbers up to around the 22 or 23 mark with youths and loans would hopefully brighten their chances of success. The likes of Kyle Vassell, Joe Wright, David Watson, Daniel Armstrong, and Rory McKenzie give McInnes a solid enough base to build from.

Russ Richardson has been in the post since the Autumn of last year. McInnes has already pointed to the head of recruitment's importance with the additions of Vassell and Luke Chambers in January. His old Aberdeen ally will play a vital role in ensuring Killie can get themselves on an upward trajectory once more.

Some signings have already been rumoured among the Killie fanbase, but at this stage, nothing is concrete yet.

Replacing Tony Docherty

The Herald:

"I would like to congratulate Tony on the opportunity he has to manage such a good club," McInnes said of the news that his trusted No.2 had joined Dundee as their new manager. "Living in the area, he knows the full potential of Dundee.

“On a personal note, I would like to thank Tony for his help and immense loyalty over all of the years we have worked together, and wish him well in his new challenge.”

To say Docherty's appointment at Dens Park was a surprise would be somewhat of an understatement. He'd worked together with McInnes at St Johnstone, Bristol City, Aberdeen, and Kilmarnock over a 14-year period. 

READ MORE: Dundee announce Tony Docherty as manager after Gary Bowyer departure

Nobody of a blue and white persuasion could begrudge him the chance to go it alone, though, especially with his first managerial gig coming in the Premiership.

Killie say that Docherty's replacement will be announced in due course. Whether that points to an external appointment, or the internal promotion of either Paul Sheerin or Chris Burke remains to be seen. Maybe some fresh input will be beneficial as part of the summer rebuild.

Striving to achieve greater consistency

The Herald:

In the league, only once did Killie string two back-to-back wins together. And what a time they left it until. Earning six points from six against United & County ultimately had Killie safe. 

Killie did eventually earn two victories on the road in Paisley and Dundee, and they were critical in the club's survival.

But if McInnes has greater ambitions than just fighting off relegation once more, the need for greater consistency needs to be matched, especially away from home. 

Killie's home record is impressive under McInnes, but by contrast, the results away from Rugby Park have been very poor overall. There was an 80-20 percent split in terms of where Killie amassed their overall points total over the course of the season.

It's no use doing the business one week if the next it all goes down the drain because of the team's inability to consistently pick up points away. There will be no progression toward to top six if the performances on display at the SMiSA Stadium and Tannadice cannot be regularly repeated next term.

In the interests of balance, McInnes' impressive cup record continued with Killie last term and he will look to build on that again after guiding the club to its first Hampden outing in 11 years in the semi-finals of the Viaplay Cup. Killie also reached the last eight of the Scottish Cup, although were knocked out by Inverness. That was a dark moment in the campaign and very much one of the biggest disappointments of the season, mind you.

No more over-reliance on Armstrong

The Herald:

The 25-year-old made 47 appearances for the club in all competitions this season. The winger scored 12 goals and notched 10 assists in what was for sure the best year of his career to date. 

From seemingly being nowhere to be seen in the club's Championship promotion success, to becoming the best player in the squad, it was quite the turnaround from Armstrong. 

He's become a real talisman for Killie and he thoroughly deserved the club's player of the year award amidst all of the plaudits from fans and pundits. 

McInnes admitted that it was fitting Armstrong netted a penalty at the start of the second half against County, as the pacey attacker had carried the fight for his team all season. 

It would've been handy for the manager to be able to hang his hat on other players, though. Armstrong certainly displayed his tremendous fitness levels, but he probably should've been afforded a break when his usual high levels dropped at points. 

At times, some teams would have three men on the No.11 - that's how much he's improved over the last 12 months. 

The conundrum for McInnes is to work out a way of ensuring his side isn't overly reliant on Armstrong to step up to the mark week in, week out. In fairness, Vassell has more than risen to the challenge in recent weeks, but recruiting in the attacking areas will be key for Killie.