I vividly remember a saying from my youth from Detroit Tigers' Hall of Famer Al Kaline: you make doubles between home and 1st base, not 1st and 2nd base. His point was clear: you can't ever make up ground on a slow start.
I see project teams try the equivalent all the time. They do not build the discipline, the know-how, the process into their project up front. Instead, they take a lacadaisical approach, thinking they have a lot of time, and thus not fully utilizing their time to develop the right processes. Suddenly, scope creeps in, things change, they get behind on their project, and all of a sudden they are in a crisis - there is no way they are going to hit their date. The next action is usually to "sprint real fast to second base" hoping to beat the throw - working long hours, scrutinizing the plan, cutting scope, etc. I have yet to see that work.
You need to develop the right culture, the right discipline, and the right process as the first phase of your project. There are going to be problems, there are going to be corrections. That's ok. Pay your dues early. When it's time to sprint to second, you'll be way ahead of the throw.