Wednesday have been more workmanlike than spectacular for large swathes of the 2016/17 season.
The Friday night victory at Wigan Athletic was a prime example of Carlos Carvalhal’s team grinding out a positive result without getting out of first or second gear.
It was a cold, wet, miserable night in Lancashire and an ordinary, unconvincing performance.
But, crucially, Wednesday won.
Ross Wallace’s scruffy, deflected 43rd minute goal was the Owls’ only shot on target. However, the three points sent Carvalhal’s troops back into the play-off places.
Carvalhal believes the team have learned how to dig in and win ugly.
“Last season, against a team like Wigan, we would have probably drawn or lost that game,” Carvalhal told The Star.
“I remember when we played MK Dons last year, which was very similar and lost.
“Now we are not sleeping. We know the competition and that sometimes we must close the team and be more compact to achieve the points. We played in difficult conditions against Wigan. They had more time to prepare and recover their players so we knew we had to be more solid.”
Since succeeding Stuart Gray in the managerial hotseat, Carvalhal has tried to instill a winning mentality. He wants his team to entertain and win playing aggressive, attractive passing football.
But the Portuguese head coach has acknowledged there are times when teams have to adopt a more pragmatic approach to be successful in the hustle-and-bustle of the second-tier.
“It was very important to win at Wigan,” he said. “I remember other games where we have played very good football. We played great at Birmingham and missed a lot of chances and lost 2-1 because we were pushing for a winner. We wanted to win and lost the game.
“We did what we had to do at Wigan. We played for the three points.
“We knew they were more fresh than us. We knew we couldn’t open the team because if we had done that they would probably have had more chances to score goals. We protected our goal well.
“We beat Wigan having performed worse than in the previous games. We deserved to beat Brighton and Bristol City but only picked up one point.”
Carvalhal is adamant his Wednesday side will hit top form over the coming months. He will be boosted by the return of Sam Hutchinson when they face Birmingham City this Friday. Defenders Tom Lees and Morgan Fox could also be involved should they shrug off their injury problems.
“We are happy when we have more options,” he said.