Without needing to try too hard, we can place Sunderland vs Middlesbrough and a handful of other games between now and Saturday firmly in the context of Championship ups and downs.
If Boro had three more points than their current total of 51, they would be in the top six. The playoffs would once again seem attainable. And they would stay there provided neither Bristol City tonight (home to fifth-top Fulham) and Sheffield Utd on Friday (at Hull City) could do more than draw.
Now where would those three Boro points be most likely to come from? Surely we are not thinking of Fortress Stadium of Light where proud, committed men of the calibre of Jack Rodwell ply their trade.
Now look at our end of the table.
We need Sheff Utd to win that game at Hull. We require Millwall to win at Burton, Norwich to see off Bolton at home and, arguably, Birmingham and Barnsley to draw.
Then, entering the realms of fantasy, a Sunderland win against Boro would take us to the lofty heights of third bottom, on equal points with Hull but labouring with a wretchedly inferior goal difference (unless you feel Hull losing by nine and us winning by nine seems a feasible prospect), while keeping us in touch with Birmingham, Bolton and possibly also Reading, who have Derby at home on Saturday.
Whatever you do, don’t bet on any of the encouraging elements of those fairytale calculations happening. And let us leave to one side whether we actually deserve a break.
Pete Sixsmith and John McCormick, of this parish, witnessed the latest defeat, 1-0 at Bolton. Forget the row over the goal; we don’t lose these games purely because officials make a couple of bad decisions. We lose them, even to seriously bad sides as Sixer and Mac found Wanderers to be, because we cannot properly compete even at this level.
Accordingly, as a first step in a mini-protest movement, Salut! Sunderland launches a Guess the Score work-to-rule for SAFC vs Boro.
Only a scoreline correctly predicting a home win will qualify for a prize.
Yes, that is tough on Boro supporters who, even as I write, were forming an orderly queue to enter winning scorelines for their team and had their hearts set on whatever Boro-themed coffee mug Monsieur Salut could come up with from our suppliers, Personalised Football Gifts, up in Weardale.
But these are desperate times calling for desperate measures. Another failure to score more goals than the opposition may lead to the prize being withdrawn altogether for the rest of the season or until we start winning (whichever comes sooner).
On which point, with a strangled little Ha’way the Lads, we declare the competition open.
Rules are simple: the first correct Sunderland-to-win forecast to be posted wins the prize. No other predicted result will be eligible and the winner must have a UK delivery address.