Despite their first defeat in five games, Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish is taking a lot of encouragement from his side's performance in their 4-2 defeat at Portsmouth.
The scoreline simply didn't do justice to the effort his side produced and the way they dominated possession in the second half on Wednesday against a side chasing a double of Uefa Cup football and the FA Cup.
With nine games left in the Barclays Premier League season, the next four will be crucial to Birmingham's survival; freefalling Newcastle United are next up at St Andrew's on Monday night, followed by a trip to Reading, the visit of homesick Manchester City and then a huge clash with Steve Bruce's Wigan Athletic on April 5.
McLeish believes that whatever the result at Fratton Park, it would not have changed the magnitude of the visit of Kevin Keegan's struggling Geordies. "The Newcastle game was never going to be less important than it already is," he said.
"I am sure people would have expected us to lose at Portsmouth and maybe, on recent form, it wouldn't have been a surprise if we had got something.
"We have to show the same spirit and character to bounce back next Monday and we know that if we win, we can go above Newcastle. It is a huge game. If we do, then our chances of survival will be even better."
After going two goals down inside the first eight minutes, many sides would have capitulated and Pompey boss Harry Redknapp revealed he thought that would be the case. But Blues are made of sterner stuff these days and produced an impressive recovery to hit back through Fabrice Muamba and a spectacular free-kick from Sebastian Larsson.
"It was a spirited performance to come back from 2-0 down after eight minutes and we had terrific spirit in the dressing room at half-time, but we were disappointed to give Portsmouth such a good start," McLeish said.
"We were back in the game and we gave away a soft third goal which really hurt us. The fourth goal was more a case of us chasing the game. We surrendered possession and there was too much space at the back, given that we had committed everyone forward.
"I can't fault the players in their spirit and commitment. David James produced a great save from Cameron Jerome and if we had scored, then I think we would have got something out of the game."
New father James McFadden was a surprise exclusion from the starting XI, replaced by 20-year-old Argentinian Mauro Zarate, but the Scottish international is likely to be back in the side for the Newcastle game.
"There is no mystery to why James wasn't playing," McLeish said. "His wife had a baby daughter at 1pm on Wednesday and he stayed with her for the birth and he hasn't had much sleep. He travelled down later in the day and I felt it was right to put him on the bench.
"Zarate did OK. It was really difficult for him to come into the team and play against the class players Portsmouth have in defence, but he acquitted himself well. He is only 20 and people are probably expecting miracles from him but I think he will cause problems for people between now and the end of the season."
One aspect of Blues' performance that would concern McLeish is the return of the individual errors that have cost them in previous games. Liam Ridgewell was caught out by Milan Baros and David Murphy conceded the penalty for Jermaine Defoe's first goal, while the Blues defence stood watching as Defoe slid home his second. Ridgewell then failed to deal with a Sulley Muntari free-kick into the box for Portsmouth's crucial third goal.
"We should have done better for some of the goals but we are playing against quality play-ers," he said. "Baros got away from Ridgewell for the first goal, but the third goal was the one that disappointed me most. We are not the biggest side and we have to be more competitive defending set-pieces. In recent games, I think they have handled it extremely well but that was soft.
"The penalty was a little contentious. There is an inconsistency amongst referees over balls that come from wide areas and hit players on the hand. Some referees give them, others don't. It is pretty hard when you see one go against your team and you don't get one yourself, on two or three occasions. It is down to the interpretation of the individual.
"In the second half, we went for it. We committed the fullbacks forward as we did against Arsenal but, this time, we got punished by a late goal after surrendering possession. And I would prefer to go for an equaliser than to sit back and think about my goal difference."