Birmingham's performances against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have given Steve Bruce grounds for optimism that their turbulent campaign can still have a happy ending.
One point from two fixtures might not sound like a revival, but the manner of performance against two of the Premiership's top four sides suggests that the green shoots of recovery are poking through the surface.
More importantly, four points from their last two home games is tangible evidence that they are in the process of resurrecting their home form and with Sunder-land, Portsmouth and West Bromwich Albion all set to visit St Andrew's in 2006, that could be critical in the final analysis.
But just in case Bruce thought it was going to be one long ray of sunshine next year, yesterday's press conference reminded him that it never rains but it pours. A flat tyre on his Mercedes ensured that he was over an hour late and was proof that even well-oiled machines can falter.
The obligatory lengthy injury list was also there to greet Bruce on his arrival with six potential absentees for today's clash with runaway Premiership leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Jiri Jarosik is unable to play under the terms of his loan deal from the London aristocrats, so Bruce will send out his 19th patched up team for their 19th Premiership fixture this season.
However, there is always a glimmer of hope and Bruce can draw solace from the fact that they came within eight minutes of winning at Stamford Bridge last season.
Didier Drogba's late equal-iser denied Birmingham their place in the history books, but Chelsea's well-oiled machine coughed and spluttered like an old Escort all afternoon.
And if the Premiership champions perform like Bruce's Mercedes yesterday afternoon, Birmingham could well return with a belated Christmas present that no one expects.
"We played well there last year and were eight minutes away from winning," recalled Bruce. "They are a fantastic team and setting the standards for everyone, but there is always a coupon buster, so we have to give it a go.
"As a player and a manger you look forward to playing against the best and, at present, Chelsea certainly are the best.
"They have set a new benchmark and have only lost twice in the Premiership under Jose Mourinho.
"That record speaks for itself and he has been a breath of fresh air.
"We are all green with envy, as he is the chosen one. Seriously, he is a top class operator and the way he has got the team exactly how he wants is his secret.
"Everyone knows their jobs and they are so well drilled. Yes, they have a lot of money and top players, but they all play to a system that suits them and they do it very well."
Bruce has included youngster Matthew Birley and Matt Sadler in the squad as Jamie Clapham, Mario Melchiot, Mikael Forssell, Mehdi Nafti, Jarosik and David Dunn are all unavailable.
Stan Lazaridis is a doubt due to sickness, while Julian Gray faces a late fitness test on his ankle, ensuring that Bruce's travails on the treatment table continue.
However, Bruce reacted strongly to rumours that Dunn's continued absence was for anything other than injury reasons. "David Dunn got a thigh injury against West Ham and he just wants to play as he is so frustrated because it isn't a hamstring problem," said Bruce forceful-ly. "If David was fit it would be fantastic for everyone, but he isn't at present."
But Bruce admitted that he was currently working feverishly behind the scenes in order to augment his injury-stricken squad.
"I don't plan to sit down with the board and I never have done," said Bruce regarding a meeting to discuss potential transfer targets and budgets. "We are in there now fighting and I'm not going to give up.
"I would love to bring in two or three new faces and I might have to generate my own money to wheel and deal a little bit.
"Regarding Walter Pandiani, I can't let anyone go with the problems I have, it would be crazy. I might have to do that eventually to generate money. I have plenty of targets, but whether I get them is another matter.
"However, how long can I wait? The problems are there for everyone to see.
"I can't keep coming in on a Friday with four or five people injured. We have been unfortunate, as our top play-ers have been repeatedly injured. I can't get them on the pitch; it is as simple as that."
Meanwhile, a quartet of Birmingham's fixtures have been switched for live television coverage on consecutive weekends during March and April. Birmingham's home game with Tottenham Hot-spur (March 18) will now kick off at 5.15pm, while the trip to Old Trafford has been switched to Sunday March 26 with a 4pm kick off.
The clash with Chelsea at St Andrew's six days later (Apr 1) will kick off at 12.45pm and their first trip to the JJB Stadium on April 8 will kick off at 5.15pm.