Just two additions have been made to a squad that came unstuck in the 2013/14 Championship play-off final, and youngsters Alban Bunjaku and Jonathan Mitchell will drop into the development ranks.
Senior recruits are being sought, though, with Steve McClaren and his coaching and scouting teams working hard to get deals done.
Paul Simpson is confident that progress will be made before the start of pre-season and that Derby will be stronger by the time they kick-off the new campaign against Rotherham United on August 9.
He told the Derby Telegraph: “Although there hasn’t been a hell of a lot going on so far, there’s been plenty of work going on behind the scenes.
“There are people having conversations with agents and players and we are trying to make sure we have a good enough squad to try to do at least the same as we did last season.
“If it’s not for the start of pre-season, we’ll look to get it (sorted out) for the opening game.
“If we can’t get them by then, we’ll look to do it before the end of that first transfer window.
“Our focus is on getting players in who are going to make us even better than last season.”
Among those Derby are hoping to welcome onto their books is former loan star Thorne.
One bid for the 21-year-old has already been knocked back, but Simpson believes the appointment of Alan Irvine as the new boss at West Brom will help to make the picture a little clearer for all concerned.
He added: “I think if anything is going to happen with George Thorne, then the fact they’ve now got a manager will help that situation.
“George is a player who we all liked last season and we know the job he did for us. There’s been talk that he’s somebody we want to bring in permanently.
“Whether Alan Irvine, as the new manager at West Brom, looks at George and thinks he can play for them, I don’t know that.
“In an ideal world, we’d have players back in for pre-season with a squad that will give us a right good chance.
“Whether George is one of them, it’s too early for me to make any comment on that. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”