When we first saw the fixture lists for the Premier League season, it was clear Southampton had been handed one of the toughest starts, facing both Manchester clubs in the first three games.
Even so they would have fancied themselves to pick up a win at home to regular relegation battlers Wigan Athletic, but they lost that one 2-0. They played superbly against both Manchester sides, leading 2-1 on each occasion before slipping to 3-2 defeats.
Keeping it tight at the back is going to be where the season is won and lost, for it remains their weak point, with going forward and scoring goals rarely a problem such is the attacking talent in their ranks.
But even if it means winning ugly, and scraping a win through an own goal from the opposition, Southampton need to start rising up the table, otherwise they risk getting cut adrift early on.
The players have shown in their opening three games they have the ability to belong in this division, but if they don't then there is a risk they will begin to lose their confidence, for just like winning can become a habit, losing can become an unhealthy one, and one which can be hard to snap out of.
With their next match an away trip to Arsenal, there is a distinct possibility Southampton will finish next weekend with four losses out of four.
If that happens then so be it, few will give them a chance of a victory, and anything else will be a bonus, but it is the matches following that which will define Southampton's season. They have a home tie against Aston Villa, away trip to Everton, and a home game with Fulham all within the next month.
If games away to Arsenal and Fulham look tough, then matches at home to Villa and Fulham look winnable. West Ham, who finished below Southampton in the Championship last season, rolled Fulham over 3-0 last week, while Villa are only narrowly above the Saints at present, with one point over a possible nine.
Win those two and Southampton will be relatively on track and give themselves a fighting chance for the season ahead. Getting the first win is the hardest, and the longer Southampton go without it, the more difficult it becomes.
If they get to seven games without a win, times will start to look dicey on the South Coast. Right now they are full of positivity despite their opening losses, but there is only so many times they will be able to lose and smile and say 'onto the next one.'
The good news is Southampton added some real quality in the transfer window. Gaston Ramirez and Maya Yoshida are internationals who will add creativity in midfield and steel in defence, and the new faces will be what they need.
But it isn't just home form Southampton need to focus on. They got close to winning on the road against City, and will hope to be no pushovers at the Emirates or Goodison Park. As the season goes on, they will have to pick up points away from home if they are to achieve survival.
Nigel Adkins has a big reputation after securing back-to-back promotions, and star players Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana have shown flashes of what they can do in their opening three games.
Now is the time to switch it up a notch and turn good performances into wins. If they fail to get a win in their next four games their chances of survival will not be over by any means, but it will be that much more difficult, and how they rise to the challenge could just define their season.
What do you think about Southampton's next four fixtures? Can they get that first win?
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