Co-coach Chris Greatholder knows only too well there's a never-ending war against cliches in sport but that's not going to stop him from reaching out for one.
That's because Greatholder knows such platitudes tend to encapsulate the essence of truth when pertaining to appraisals. The Whale Hawke's Bay United campaign in the 2019-20 national summer league is no exception.
"It's the biggest cliche in sport when you say you'll take each game as it comes but, I think, that's all we've got to do and focus on," says the 41-year-old.
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On Saturday at 1pm, in week 16 of the premiership, Bay United host Southern United at Park Island, Napier. That means parking thoughts about play-off ambitions or what may happen next.
Bay United are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Canterbury United Dragons at Bluewater Stadium on Sunday, February 9. It had mercifully ended a five-match losing streak for Greatholder and player/co-coach Bill Robertson.
So was the three-week hiatus from the competitive arena a fillip or did it lead to a doldrums for the team perched on the seventh rung of the ladder? "It's a bit of both," he says, believing Bay United had found some momentum with the win. "It was a massive game for us in terms of our confidence and keeping our season going, I guess."
Conversely, that intermission has been an opportune time to refocus and regroup for the clash against the Southerners.
It was an ideal time to engage in some self-discovery, not only as individuals but also as a collective to amp them up to a desirable level of desperation.
Needless to say, when the dust settles in a region craving for rain about 3pm "a massive three points" in the bag will be imperative to keep Bay United's title aspirations intact.
The "tough run" had tested the resolve and redefined the protagonists' character, not only on the park but also off it.
"You know, both Bill and I have, I don't think, ever been on a run as bad as that in our careers so it was tough, " Greatholder says. "It was tough because you go to plan B and then you go to plan C and that wasn't working either."
That left the pair scratching their heads because they could still sink their teeth into statistical sandwiches from the five outings but it didn't whet their appetite.
"We dominated large periods of games and we should have won them although there were a couple of occasions where we just didn't show up," he says, alluding to the losses to Hamilton Wanderers on December 22 and Tasman United on February 2.
Bay United, he says, were the better outfit against Auckland City FC (January 19) on the road and against Wellington Phoenix Reserves (January 26) at home despite finding themselves on the wrong side of the ledger.
"If you don't score from the chances you create you're going to get punished so some of it was wrong and some of it was okay but we've got to maintain the belief that we're still a good side."
Crucial to that mini-renaissance was a retreat to simplicity where the blueprint demanded players adhere to the principles of cohesiveness, a quality instilled in them when they were young and impressionable.
"I still believe, as a group, we're talented, we're ready and we're one of the best sides in the league," Greatholder says.
Adopting an aggressive mentality on oodles of self-belief — devoid for the best part during the five-loss patch — was essential and evident in the first 15 minutes against the Dragons.
"We had gotten a little nervy where the boys got into areas to hurt the opposition but chose not to because they didn't want to take risks because they were playing with a little bit of fear."
He accepts that can happen in sport but striker Ahinga Selemani's goal in the 33rd minute proved to be the catalyst to bring the desired attributes to the fore.
The players did become a little edgy towards the end but he's happy to make allowances for such emotional flips at the height of the competition.
That some players were conspicuous in their absence on the park as the starting XI wasn't so much a statement on their ability but more a shuffling of the pack for freshness.
"You play football and some people are at the top of that level and some are just at the bottom of that level but they're all capable of being the best player on the day," he says.
Greatholder says the essence of putting in robust tackles or the tenacity to forage at the coal face for goals remains but it's just a case of wringing out as much juice as they can from the squad.
"Yes, it can be tough at times but it can be easy as well so it takes time because you have to work with the individuals as well as groups and units."
He reiterates the seasonal mantra of "it's all about the one per cent".
"To be fair you can't take any points for granted," he says.
It hasn't been a summer where Bay United have been able to tick the boxes next to opposition names to say they are guaranteed three points.
"It's fine margins that gets us through and we haven't managed those fine margins as well as we would have hoped."
Greatholder still believes they have an adroit muster who can go off on a whim now to pursue a playoffs berth.
"We shouldn't fear anybody," he says. "We had a tough game [against Team Wellington] and we've gone toe-to-toe with Auckland City — who are the best team — twice now although, unfortunately, they were both 3-2 defeats."
A former Bay United player himself, Greatholder says the blinder from goalkeeping coach Richard Gillespie, at 38, is an endorsement of experience enhancing consistency.
Chuck in the mix Robertson, Adam Cowan and Danny Wilson and there's a promise of a degree of certainty.
"You know you'll get an 8, 9 or 10 out of them in every game so there's that stability."
Greatholder says Gillespie had built a rapport with his defence and found composure out of chaotic situations.
"You can't buy that," he says. "You've got to do those hours and you've got to learn such behaviour throughout your career to be able to be cool and calm under pressure as he [Gillespie] shows."
Captain and No 1 goalkeeper Ruben Parker Hanks is back after some rehab on his shoulder and looking energetic again.
"We've got a real battle on our hands with that No 1 spot, which is exactly what we want," he says. "We've got a battle throughout the squad for our 11 and our bench."
It's a testing time for the co-coaches but Greatholder says it's a great problem to have players knocking the door to get on the park.
Southern United are sitting a point above Bay United on the table. Coach Paul Riley also has resigned, returning to Ireland to start a job. His assistant, Terry Boylan, has taken over the reins.
Greatholder says they have changed their shape, sitting deep behind the ball to play off striker Garbhan Coughlan.
"We know what they'll bring and what they're all about as they try to slow the game down but they're on the verge of the playoffs, too, so I don't if a draw will be a good result for Terry or he'll want to go for three points."
Bay United are contemplating rolling a different formation to exploit their most effective players, in the acknowledgement they have focused more on attack than on defence.