In every season there is a traceable turning point. For United last season it was a defeat – 3-0 at Crewe. I wonder if this time it will be a victory, 2-1 at home to promotion rivals Preston last Saturday.
Of course, beating another good League One team should be par for the course. Reading too much into one result is always a danger but there was a healthy stubborn streak about this one that suggested a real kick-on moment.
Not only is the manager not for turning on his favoured 4-5-1 (and you can see why in terms of housing more creative talent), it’s clear his players believe the system can work in their favour.
That belief will have hardened after a convincing and deserved 2-1 win, founded on an instinctive finish from a summer signing shaping as a natural goal scorer. Yes, Marc McNulty is starting to provide a missing link.
The possible dilemma is that Nigel Clough is committed to bringing back Chris O’Grady and perhaps targeting other forwards besides. What then for 4-5-1? Also, Preston played into United’s hands in coming to take the game to them. But the options are widening.
And, with both cups to come and a resolve to strengthen, you sense United can be on the sort of roll they enjoyed last season. Only this time not leaving them just short. Top two, though, please.