In many ways the secret to Norwich City maintaining their place in the English Championship will, as ever, come down to the actions of one or two men.
The big characters that emerge in the Norfolk club's darkest hour and drag the Canaries – kicking and screaming if needs be – out of the sorry mess they currently find themselves in.
Five days in to the Glenn Roeder regime and you can already sense where those crucial characters might emerge from – the captains of industry, the leaders of men that any team needs in such times of crisis. Particularly on the eve of a visit from the neighbours.
On the touchline, the fact that Roeder has captained every club that he has played for – including Leyton Orient when he was a 19-year-old – suggests he's made of the right stuff; ditto, his newly-appointed No2 Lee Clark who led Fulham with strength and purpose. He's no shrinking violet.
Nor, of course, is 38-year-old Dion Dublin who returned to training this week following his 'broken back'. Nor, if only on first impressions, is new loan-signing Martin 'Tiny' Taylor. He wore the armband on a stand-in basis at St Andrews last season as Blues charged through the back end of the campaign and dug themselves out a ticket back to the top flight.
And then, of course, there's Darren Huckerby. Big character, certainly. Complex character, completely. But as everyone sat and listened to Roeder's first pre-match Press conference it was clear that the 51-year-old's long awareness of the City talisman ensures that he sees him very much part of the solution – as much as, on occasion, he can be part of the problem.
First things first. Where, ideally, does he see Huckerby playing?
“Picking the ball out of the net and running back with his hands in the air,” said Roeder, with a knowing smile.
“No, I think left-side. I think he's better out there, coming in and causing his damage.”
In that simple sentence Roeder might have managed to tick another little box with the City supporters. The 32-year-old Championhsip menace is not about to be told that he is, actually, a right winger.
“He's a very important player to the team. He commands huge respect in the dressing room and has got a lot of respect among the supporters,” Roeder continued.
“He's a very experienced player now and from Sunday onwards, he's one of those players that I'm looking to show the kind of bravery that I'm talking about – to be an example to the younger players; to lead them through a sticky patch.
“Any manager needs two or three leaders on the pitch and he'll be one; Dion will be one. And you don't always need to be verbally inspirational – you can be inspirational by your actions. And that's probably what Hucks is – inspirational by his actions.
“And, hopefully, that'll kick in straight away on Sunday and he'll cause Ipswich's defence a lot of problems.”
He had, it appeared, been aware of Huckerby's talents from a very early age.
“When I was at Watford, we had a scout that lived in Lincoln,” he recalled. “And he saw Hucks play his first couple of games. And he said: 'There's this super young player that's just come into the Lincoln side. Come up and see him…'
“And I did the following week. I took training and then broke my neck to get there in time for kick-off and watched him play.
“And I saw a player that had a lot of potential. He did three or four of those long runs that he goes on from the half-way line; taking everybody on; each time in between, he bent over and put his hands on his hips. And took about ten minutes to recover,” he said with a smile, knowing that some things never change.
“I came away thinking: 'I'll leave him there till Christmas and see how he develops and perhaps go back and have another little look at him. And if he looks like he's getting stronger physically and coping with 90 minutes of football, I might very well try and bring him to Watford.
“Within a month of me seeing that game, one of my ex-teammates at Newcastle, Kevin Keegan, snapped him – obviously Keegan had a bigger crystal ball than I had.”
Now finally Huckerby's manager, Roeder is clearly intent on making Colney a place for work; we didn't quite go down the 'Costa del Colney' routine, but that was the thinking.
As ever, the proof of that pudding, comes in the eating – City win more games than they lose and people will presume that a new, hard-work ethos has been established at the club's training HQ. No more Mr Nice Guys.
“We've got to make sure that we come here to work – that, perhaps, we're a lot more aggressive in our attitude towards those couple of hours every day,” said Roeder.
“And then they can go back to being the nice people it seems they are either side of that. Being nice doesn't get you anywhere. Are the a bit too nice? Possibly. Possibly.
“When you look at the great players all around the world they've all got an edge to them – they're all nice guys when they need to be nice, but they're all nasty, ruthless people on the football field,” added the new City chief, with the temptation to cast his ex-Newcastle United pal Alan Shearer in the mould.
“Whatever position they play. Even the striker. He can be nasty and ruthless in the way that when a chance comes he makes sure that he wraps the ball into the net – and in the manner that he aggressivly gets across a centre-back and gets the ball first to score.
“And then you interview him after the game and you think: 'My God, what a nice guy…' But out on the pitch there he was an animal.”
As he looked round, then just three days in to his new job, Roeder appeared to sense a willingness and a readiness to do well; spirits weren't as on the floor as he expected.
“Around the training ground here, they've surprised me how up-beat they are. But obviously any lack of confidence has been shown in the games which is the most important place,” he said.
“And for whatever any manager or coach says; whatever motivational skills you give players – there's nothing better than winning games. That's the best way to regain you confidence.
“And it doesn't matter how you win the games – whether it's the luckiest win ever – it doesn't matter to the players. Just as long as they win a game and roll from there…”