Revitalised and echoes of 2017: Portsmouth defying the odds in promotion resurgence
Following a demoralising televised defeat at Charlton, Kenny Jackett demanded nine Pompey victories from the remaining 10 League One fixtures.
Having slipped eight points adrift of second-placed Barnsley, after playing the same number of games, the optimism was admirable, if a little unconvincing.
A month on and a remarkable four-game winning streak has repositioned the Blues as genuine automatic promotion candidates.
Today they stand three points short of a Sunderland side which presently occupy second place.
With a trip to the Stadium Of Light booked in for April 27, their fellow Checkatrade Trophy finalists remain within touching distance.
The Black Cats, however, possess a goal difference superior by six. Even Pompey triumphs in each of their final six matches may not be enough.
Still, history is heartening, as the 2016-17 League Two promotion race illustrates.
On this day two years ago, Paul Cook’s men were 10 points and five goals behind leaders Doncaster – each with five games to play.
Positioned third, the Blues also lagged behind second-placed Plymouth by four points.
Come the season’s end, Pompey claimed the league ahead of the Pilgrims on goal difference.
During those final five matches, Cook’s side amassed 13 points, while goal difference moved from five behind Doncaster to nine better off.
Back to the present day, Barnsley remain in the mix, albeit hindered by one win from their last five games.
The third-placed Tykes stand two points ahead of the Blues, having played a fixture more.
Pompey’s game advantage is against Peterborough at Fratton Park on April 30. On the same night, Sunderland travel to Fleetwood for their match in hand on Barnsley.
Charlton, a team to have inflicted the double over Jackett’s men this season, should also not be discounted.
They are positioned one point and one place behind the Blues, yet have fulfilled a fixture more.
In terms of the play-offs, Luton, Sunderland and Barnsley have now qualified, although focus continues on automatic promotion.
As it stands, another two points are required for Pompey to join them.
Peterborough are looking most likely to break into a top seven which also includes Doncaster, who occupy the final place.
Should the Posh fail to win at Blackpool on Saturday, Pompey’s play-off qualification will be sealed, regardless of their own outcome against Rochdale.
Quite a turnaround for a side which a month ago some feared may miss out on the play-offs altogether following defeat at The Valley.