In football, timing can be everything.
From working out a pre-season schedule, to measuring the drop of a shoulder or a darting sprint to perfection to make space, it makes a huge difference.
For Motherwell, they may very well be timing their run into the metaphorical box perfectly.
A slow start left the Fir Park side well off the pace. But a grinding result producing a victory against Glentoran offered a glimmer of hope to supporters watching at home that their team wasn’t far away.
But in the last couple of weeks, this Motherwell team has clocked up performances – and more importantly results – to get tongues wagging that last year’s third-placed team is back in business, just as the fixtures and competitions start to stack up.
At times, it hasn’t been tricky. Glentoran, St Johnstone and Coleraine – the trip to Northern Ireland particularly – have come with challenges.
But, tail that with an emphatic 3-0 rout at Pittodrie, and the niggling doubt which may have lurked a couple of weeks ago has already dissipated as the season cranks up.
The performance away to Hapoel Beer-Sheva in Israel again underlined that, albeit in a 3-0 loss. But, regardless of that result, it is clear Motherwell are ready to take off once more.
“The game in Northern Ireland was a completely different game to Aberdeen,” said Liam Polworth, the Well midfielder.
“We knew it would be tough. But to come out of the traps at Aberdeen was fantastic. It was an amazing result and we nearly had the full thing put to bed in the first half.”
Motherwell’s win at Pittodrie was all-the-more impressive when you consider what had gone immediately before.
Two goals up in Northern Ireland to Coleraine at half-time, a testing second-half, a sending off, a nerve-jangling extra-time period and an emotion-zapping penalty shootout eventually saw the Steelmen progress into the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League.
And then there was the Showgrounds pitch…
“We knew it would be hard when we got there and saw the pitch,” said Polworth, the former Inverness Caledonian Thistle midfielder.
“I’ve not seen anything like it and I’ve played a couple of years in the Championship.
“The grass was long, it was bumpy, there were divots. You couldn’t pass the ball five yards without it going all over the place.
“I was saying this to the boys earlier. You work so hard to get into Europe and then you get dished a game like that. There was a bit of a downer when you got there, but we were just buzzing to get through.
“It’s testament to the manager and the coaching staff that we were able to go flying at Aberdeen at Pittodrie on the Sunday. We all worked hard but we’re fit, and ready to go. It was a long night on that pitch in Coleraine but we knew we had a job to do on Sunday.”
He added: “There’s times when it does go through your head that it’s not going to be your night. Especially with the way the first half went and then they pull it back in the second half.
“When they get the late penalty you start to doubt. But to get through was brilliant, and a lot of credit has to go to Trevor [Carson]. Everyone knew how good he was and is.”
The start of the campaign has been a testing time for most connected with the club, but perhaps Polworth more than some.
He was a major part of Motherwell’s thrust to third last season, leading the way in the Scottish Premiership in the way of assists.
However, due to the return of David Turnbull from knee surgery, he found game time hard to come by, often sitting on the bench as his team-mates found results tricky to get.
But now back in the team, the impact he has made has been clear.
“It was definitely frustrating,” he admitted. “Anyone in that position would be the same but you have to deal with it. You get on with it.
“When you get the chance back you need to take it, and prove to the manager that you deserve to stay in the team.”
The attention and focus now turns to today’s visit of Rangers, a side the Well have not beaten at home in the league since Boxing Day in 200.
Polworth reckons now may be the time for that to change.
While only a couple of weeks ago Motherwell could not buy a win despite playing well while Rangers’ defence was impenetrable, Motherwell have strung together wins, gained confidence and started scoring goals.
Couple that with Rangers finally conceding in the form of the 2-2 draw at Easter Road, and there is a renewed hope that a shock – at least to those outside of Fir Park – could be on the cards.
“We know when we play to 100% that we have a right good chance,” he said.
“We need to be right at it, they have a lot of quality players. But at home we will be right up for it and know what we can bring to the game.
“Obviously we hope that it all works to our benefit and they come on to us. Hopefully it means we can break away and win the game.”