Sheffield United's winning mentality continues to drive them on even after promotion to Premier League
Ability goes a long way, and the Blades have plenty. Sander Berge and Anel Ahmedhodzic have played Champions League football, Iliman Ndiaye appeared in the knockout stages of last year's World Cup, John Egan is a Premier League-quality footballer and Tommy Doyle and James McAtee exciting talents.
But if ability was all there was to it, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City would not be relying on favours just to get into the Championship play-offs, Watford would at worst still be in the running.
For all their talent, the Blades’ biggest strength has arguably been the mentality to make the most of it.
It has been their shield in tumultuous times, with one takeover attempt failed in the summer, and the latest, from Dozy Mmobuosi, apparently not completed during his period of exclusivity, casting serious doubt on that.
It is what stopped them feeling sorry for themselves after last season's play-off penalty shoot-out defeat at Nottingham Forest, what kept them calm when a transfer embargo weakened their injury-hit squad in mid-season and what stopped them fretting when Middlesbrough’s exceptional run turned up the heat.
If owner Prince Abdullah bin Musaid Al Saud described the season as "very difficult for me, my family and everybody" one can only imagine how tough it was for those at the sharp end. We might have to because there has been very little bleating from them about it.
It is debatable how many of the old guard of John Egan, Chris Basham, George Baldock, Enda Stevens, Ollie Norwood, John Fleck and Billy Sharp – stalwarts of the Chris Wilder side which finished ninth in the Premier League but all now in their 30s – can be heavily leaned on in next season's top-flight but all played big parts in getting them there.
The XI Heckingbottom named for Wednesday's promotion-clinching 2-0 win over West Brom looked suspiciously like his strongest (bar the injured Rhys Norrington-Davies) and only Egan and Baldock were in it. But Basham, Norwood, Fleck and Sharp finished the game, their guiding hands still valued. Stevens might have too were he not injured.
But those players – and also Jack O'Connell, whose last game before his knee injury was in September 2020 – have played a big part even when not in the team, driving standards in training and at Shirecliffe generally, providing wise counsel in the dressing room, encouraging and helping their peers.
Not that is has been just the players or just Heckingbottom, who was rightly keen on Wednesday night to ensure that his coaching staff got the credit they deserve.
Wilder set a high bar as manager when it came to being demanding of his players, and his recent outburst about Watford shows his standards have not slipped.
Sheffield United were also being self-critical last week – about two of the three goals they conceded to Manchester City. Others would have been patting backs that it was only 3-0.
Heckingbottom has carried that thinking on, which is why a man who was verging on angry in the pre-match press conference about being asked so many "what if" questions about promotion, already had new short-term targets in his head as soon as it was secured.
"We're always looking (for motivation) and a couple more wins and we can be the best Sheff United side we've had in the Championship, of course we can," he said. "That is a different challenge in itself.
"We've got 26 wins, one behind Burnley, can we get the most wins (in this season’s Championship)? There's always little things you can push and shove.
"We'll prepare the same, we'll work just as hard, and we'll try and win every game. We have to, we've got a duty to do that for the league.
"But we haven't got anyone on our coat-tails and that's where we're going to have to be really cute, really clever.
"That drive when you cross the white line is going to be tested and stretched because we've achieved what we wanted so it's keeping that motivation going."
Three wins from their last three games would take the Blades to 94 points, their third highest points tally for a season behind the Division Four-winning team of 1981-82 (96) and the 2016-17 League One champions (100) who included Basham, Fleck and Sharp amongst their number.
Their next game is at home to a Preston North End team two points outside the play-off places before a visit to a Huddersfield Town side one above the relegation zone.
But as far as Heckingbottom and his mentality monsters are concerned, they are just three football matches and when the Blades play three football matches there can only be one aim: three wins.