Fixtures become must-win games, relegation six-pointers and acid tests of a team’s credentials.
All of the above could be applied to the game at the John Smith’s Stadium this afternoon, between third-bottom Huddersfield Town and second-bottom Peterborough United, a game of great significance in the race to beat the drop from the Championship.
But a glance at the remaining six games for the Terriers makes it abundantly apparent that it is full of six-pointers and must-win games.
For Town’s final half-dozen matches are against teams who could all end up playing League One football next season, from Bristol City at the bottom all the way up to Millwall in 15th.
Not even Birmingham, five points better off than Huddersfield in 11th place, will be resting easy.
It is why Sean Scannell, Town’s livewire winger, believes placing all the emphasis on this one game would be detrimental.
As much as footballers and coaches say they take it one game at a time – another of those cliches – it is as much about the bigger picture for Mark Robins’s side as just this one game.
Scannell said: “Yes this one is a must-win game, but they’re all must-win games.
“We’ve got two huge games now against Peterborough and Wolves and it’s important we go and perform in those.
“It’s better in the position we’re in for us to be playing against teams that are around us, rather than those that are up at the top fighting for promotion.”
All previous records and benchmarks are set to be reduced to rubble by the number of teams clawing towards safety. Since the Football League introduced three points for a win at the start of the 1981-82 season, 50 points has generally been the traditional target for teams fighting relegation.
Only on five occasions has a team been relegated with more, with the total of 52 amassed by Millwall in 1996 and Leicester City five years ago proving not enough to stave off the drop, and thus becoming the exception rather than the norm.
This season, however, 53 points might not be enough.
“Hopefully, two wins will do it, but you never know in this league, we’re probably looking at needing three wins and a couple of draws,” said Scannell, echoing the uncertainty most people associated with the clubs in trouble must be feeling.
“If we just keep playing like we’re playing then, hopefully, we can do it.
“Anyone can get relegated right now, but it’s a good league and very exciting to be a part of.
“Yes, we’re in the relegation zone right now, but how many points are we off going 12th or somewhere safe like that? Not that many.”
That Town would be in this predicament seemed highly unlikely in the autumn when at one stage Simon Grayson’s Championship novices were second.
But four League wins since November has seen them plummet, and although the fall was checked by the replacing of Grayson with Robins, the form of everyone else in the dogfight has left Huddersfield battling for their lives.
The Easter weekend saw them drop into the relegation zone for the first time this season, but Scannell does not believe that will have a negative effect on the team’s mindset.
“That will not have a psychological impact on us,” said the summer acquisition from Crystal Palace.
“If we were in the bottom three but not playing well and six points behind, then that would be a concern. But because we’re in and around everyone else it just means that one win could take us straight out, one draw even could take us out. With everyone else picking up points, though, we have to ensure we continue performing.”
On the evidence of Tuesday night’s defeat at Bolton Wanderers, Town are playing well.
Their performance against Hull City three days earlier might not have been as energetic, but there are positive signs ahead of the visit of a Peterborough
“Yes, it’s two defeats, but if we’d have turned those into wins people would be saying we’d be safe,” said Scannell, 22.
“That’s how quickly it can change.
“The manager said on Tuesday that it was a good performance and I agree. We can only look up now.
“If we take that performance into the rest of the season then I think we’ll get points, no matter what.
“The key to everything is creating chances and taking them. We showed we can create chances against Bolton and on another day we’ll probably score every one of those, so we’ve just got to keep pushing.”
To aid their cause today against a Peterborough side that looked dead and buried at one stage only to somehow orchestrate a seven-match unbeaten run, Scannell says the home faithful need to be patient.
“We need the home crowd behind us,” he said. “The fans are always behind us anyway, but we need them more than ever.
“Our responsibility as players is to get the fans on our side by playing well and going at teams.”