"Eventually," Martin O'Neill cheerfully says of his Aston Villa team, "we will find our level."
In the context of Villa's start to the season, it is a clever statement; open to a multitude of interpretations; designed to cover his back if results, as seems unlikely at present, take a turn for the worse.
When O'Neill took over as Villa manager on August 4, he had a rough idea of what awaited him: a disillusioned squad, a departing chairman, an under-achieving club, diminishing attendances etc. He did not expect to manage growing expectations.
But, after four victories out of four at Villa Park, three draws out of three away from home and a dramatic improvement by key players, the belief among the squad and supporters is at its highest in five years.
"I cannot do anything about the expectations, we know that ourselves," O'Neill says, but the 1-1 draw away to Chelsea last Saturday means that Villa are ahead of schedule in their bid for rehabilitation after the scorched-earth policy of the David O'Leary era.
This has been Villa's best start since 1998-99 when, under John Gregory, the team won eight and drew four of their opening 12 matches. They finished in only sixth position.
The new manager is working with a group of players that, only a few months ago, were fighting to avoid relegation. Gregory inherited the talented team of the Brian Little era.
Villa could easily have lost at Arsenal and Chelsea and might only have drawn against Reading at Villa Park had the visitors not had a key defender sent off.
O'Neill does not blindly accept that Villa have turned the corner. "There are a couple of hammerings around the corner," he says, fully appreciating the vagaries of the game and, perhaps, the limitations of his squad.
"We have to take it and deal with it when it comes. We are enjoying it at the moment and the players have been excellent but you can still be excellent in defeat. It depends how you get beaten.
"The players have got a lot to do with it [being Villa's best start since 1998]. They have to make the tackles, head the ball and score the goals."
The supporters, too, for the atmosphere inside Villa Park has improved markedly. The latter stages of the O'Leary era had turned Villa Park into a morgue. Now, Villa Park is a bastion of enthusiasm.
"The atmosphere is great," O'Neill says. "The fans are behind us. They desperately want to cheer us on. We've got a big roar for the goal. The minute we break forward with a bit of urgency, the crowd are right there with us and that is encouraging anyway - and 35,000 turn up, which is brilliant."
Not since October 2001, when Villa became the Premiership's greatest over-reachers to reach the top of the table, has optimism been this strong. Not since the first Graham Taylor era (1987-90) has a Villa manager been asbig as the club.
Like Taylor, O'Neill can bring the best out of players who are otherwise prone to a shortage of confidence. Liam Ridgewell and Juan Pablo Angel were diminishing under O'Leary while Gavin McCann seemed a shadow of his former self.
Under O'Neill, Ridgewell has fulfilled much of his potential, Angel is back to being the striker that flourished under Gregory and McCann looks something resembling the midfield player who appeared for England in 2001.
The arrival of Randy Lerner, as chairman, has improved the mood and there has been some luck. And, yes, Villa will find their true level eventually.
O'Neill will be given the chance to sign new players when the transfer window opens on January 1. "There are a couple of hammerings around the corner"? . . . not on the evidence so far, Martin.