It has been Sheffield Wednesday’s only goalless draw of the season but it lifted them from just about their lowest point of the opening months and sparked an 11 match unbeaten run.
It came against Saturday’s Hillsborough visitors Blackburn Rovers with the Owls grasping a point from Ewood Park on Boxing Day although they remained rooted in the bottom three.
However, the long haul was on. There had been a poor performance in a 2-1 home defeat by Bournemouth the previous week but the draw at Blackburn was the start of improving fortunes for Wednesday, although the long haul towards mid-table began at a slow march.
They accumulated points in eight unbeaten league games and tagged on too were three FA Cup tie. The Stuart Gray way was starting to have an effect.
Interestingly, Blackburn were 11th then as they are now (and still eyeing the sixth promotion place four points away) but Wednesday have a marginally better points return in the subsequent three months or so.
The Lancashire side have taken 28 points from 20 games whilst Wednesday have 32 from 21.
Rovers will include Jordan Rhodes whose feat at Hillsborough in December 2011 isn’t easily forgotten when he bagged all four goals for Huddersfield in their 4-4 draw with the Owls.
Blackburn, at a cost of £8m, were the ones to shell out for him the following Summer.
He has 23 goals so far and is currently on a good streak with seven goals in his last nine games.
Owls’ keeper Chris Kirkland says he would love a top half finish for the club.
“We’d have taken that at the start of the season,” said the keeper.
“The job Stuart has done since he took over in December has been brilliant, and he deserves all the credit.
“He’s got us playing well. All the lads want to play for Stu and they respect him.
“We’ve had a good run but we’ve still got work to do, we know that, and we’re not taking our foot off the gas - sometimes this division can bite you on the bum when you don’t expect it.”