SPEAKING to some Bradford Bulls fans recently, they are already resigned to spending next year in the Championship.
The old jokes about does anyone actually know the way to Workington and Whitehaven have been doing the rounds for a while.
They are preparing themselves for a whole host of different venues – Post Office Road, The Shay, Mount Pleasant maybe – rather than their usual diet of Headingley, DW Stadium, Craven Park and the like.
Some actually admit to looking forward to such variation and visiting more traditional venues that are no longer the norm given the shiny new veneer of so many Super League destinations.
You can see their point, I suppose.
Nevertheless, the upshot is that they do not believe their club can escape relegation.
Furthermore, that is regardless of what happens at the appeal against the six-point deduction for entering administration that has damaged them so badly.
That a date has finally been set for that hearing – it is to be held on Wednesday week – does, at last, bring some clarity to the whole situation.
It has taken too long for it to be organised given that new Bradford owner Marc Green made it known he wanted to appeal more than five weeks ago and the date was actually only confirmed on Thursday.
Regardless, everyone does now know that the situation will be resolved one way or another in less than a fortnight’s time and the erstwhile Super League and World Club champions will know just where they stand when it comes to this battle to avoid the drop. And the key is they can still do that – dodge the relegation bullet – despite the pessimism (or realism?) of some.
No-one expects them to get the full six points returned. That would create all sorts of outrage from some of their rivals and four is likely to be wishful thinking too.
But two would be more likely, closing the current gap between them and third-bottom Wakefield to six points although they do face each other in a massive contest at Odsal a week tomorrow.
It is unfortunate the appeal could not be staged before that sizeable game to ratchet up the anticipation a little further.
That aside, Bradford’s up-coming fixtures are certainly less taxing than their recent run when they have shipped more than 50 points against Huddersfield Giants, St Helens and Wigan and lost to Leeds Rhinos, too.
Today’s game in Perpignan offers a real chance to start that revival before Wakefield arrive and then – after Bradford’s Challenge Cup quarter-final with Warrington – a trip to Salford who are suddenly in danger of being dragged into the mire themselves.
I had a text recently from Peter Roe, the former Wakefield coach who won a league title with Bradford as a player, reminding me that he had predicted in The Yorkshire Post at the start of the season that Salford would be relegated.
It seemed incredulous at the time given the amount of money they had spent and rich array of talent bought but maybe he has just shown some real prescience.
Whatever, it will be a remarkable feat if Francis Cummins can inspire that requisite turnaround and it is someone else, not Bradford’s fans, visiting those Championship grounds in 2015.
If he does pull it off, he should be named Coach of the Year.