Results, Nigel Adkins acknowledges, have proven surprisingly difficult to come by since the turn of the month.
But, reflecting upon a run of games which has seen them secure only one point from a possible nine, the Sheffield United manager remains adamant his team is equipped to mount a serious challenge for promotion.
“I’ve always maintained that you find out more about yourself and the people around you in times of adversity,” Adkins said. “And what I’ve learnt is that, even in the most passionate of environments, the players have always responded and got themselves back into matches.
“You need that character, that heart and soul, to keep driving forwards. To keep on fighting when things aren’t necessarily going your way. They have to keep responding and it was good to see them get some tangible reward for that.”
Adkins, whose side returns to action when Doncaster Rovers visit Bramall Lane on Saturday, was referring to last weekend’s fixture against Bradford City when United, despite trailing 2-0 early in the second-half, fought back to draw. Billy Sharp’s strike, shortly after James Meredith had turned the ball into his own net, prevented them from slipping to a third straight defeat after losses to Bury and Colchester.
Adkins, who has spent the week working on tactics to ensure United make a faster start when Rovers make the short journey south, said: “The character of the players is there for all to see. That can not be disputed or questioned whatsoever.
“Goals change the complexion of games and, when you score on, it’s amazing how quickly tails get up. We changed the shape a little bit (at City) and that probably helped too.”
With Adkins revealing a change of tactics in midfield had also helped change the course of the fixture at Valley Parade, he must decide whether to alter his preferred 4-4-2 formation against Rovers.
“Putting three in there freed things up more for Jose,” Adkins said. “He had to run and be athletic but it helped us get him on the ball more.”