Gus Poyet is adamant that Sunderland are in a season-defining period, and is hopeful that the win over Stoke has started a domino effect that can carry his squad to safety.
The nervy midweek triumph over the Potters was more about substance than style, and the same will ultimately be the case against Newcastle this weekend, but with each three points makes the next easier to find, insists Poyet.
He told the Sunderland Echo:
I always saw the Stoke, Newcastle and Hull games as three massive games which would tell us what sort of season we'd be facing by the time they were played.
It was always going to be the case of if we did well against Stoke, it would take some of the pressure off us in the other two games.
And if we can do well against Newcastle now it will make it easier against Hull.
It is all about keeping going the good run we've had.
The players know that, and they've bought into that, and you can see how hard they are working to stay in games and get something from them.
The more points we pick up regularly, the better our confidence gets.
It's a strange thought that, after the season we have had, a win against Newcastle would see Sunderland sat in 12th place before the majority of the rest kick off this weekend.
We've been talking about connotations all season, though, and they rarely pan out, so you are almost reluctant to mention it at all. Still, it shows just how tight the bottom half of the table is and the kind of effect a couple of wins can have.
You get the sense that a genuine big push for points now and the rest of the season will take care of itself once the immediate pressure for points is lifted from the players' shoulders. Considering the start to the season what we
had endured, that would be a remarkable turnaround. Here's hoping.