These days to suggest that City boss Paul Lambert was smart is akin to suggesting that the Pontiff looks to Rome for inspiration, but there was a moment in the wake of the Monday night win over Bristol City which merely confirmed that point.
And suggested that this season could yet prove something of a managerial masterclass. Again.
The difficulty about going second with a fifth of the season still to go is the fact that lesser individuals would concern themselves with the four or five teams now following them – not the one up ahead.
The result being that you spend the final seven weeks of the season playing with one eye over your shoulder; worrying who was doing what at The Liberty or Elland Road.
Lambert, however, took the other tack and focussed thoughts on the one team left between Norwich and a second, successive title triumph – Queen’s Park Rangers.
“You’ve got to go for [the league leaders],” Lambert told Sky Sports. “They are the team everybody has got to try and catch at the minute and a brilliant team they are…”
Now, there’s two strands to that one statement. The last one, first.
You don’t go out of your way to wind up Neil Warnock; you keep him sweet by saying what a ‘brilliant team’ they are; nothing for The Wily One to get too wound up about.
It is a difficult one to ‘spin back’ at your rival manager. “He called us a brilliant team the other day… and we all know what he means…”
That Rangers are a brilliant team?
And – probably – have enough quality in the tank to see them through to the finishing line in first.
But Lambert’s interest in wresting the title out of Warnock’s hands is but a distraction; a sleight of hand.
His number one goal is back-to-back promotions and to achieve that remarkable feat all he has to do is to keep the Canaries hanging onto Rangers coat-tails for the next seven weeks – and ensure that neither a Swansea, nor a Leeds, nor a Cardiff or a Forest get between him and the Londoners.
So you set supporters and players alike the challenge of catching the team in front of you; it’s a bit like the old gag about why Italian racing drivers never need a rear view mirror – because they never worry about who is behind them, just who remains in front of them.
It is a fascinating race this season; proof once again that the whole play-off format makes the Football League that much more of an enthralling competition than the four-horse race for the four top places in the Premiership ever is.
Albeit you might have five clubs, not four fighting it out for that Champions League ticket.
With no sudden-death, winner-takes-all show-piece final at the end of it. A trip to Wembley with – it has been argued – one of the biggest single prizes in professional team sport on offer to the winner – that £60 million ticket to the English Premier League.
And such pressures are clearly starting to take their toll on City’s nearest and dearest.
Both Dave Jones and Billy Davies could be found urging the home faithful to keep the faith; to not let the nerves get the better of them as home results suddenly prove hard to come by.
Likewise Swansea’s free-flowing football appears to have lost its end product; the Swans can’t find the Holt-esque edge to their game that disposes of a Scunthorpe United away.
The real dark horses, of late, have been Burnley as the ‘Jay Rod’ bandwagon threatened to gate-crash the play-off party.
And then comes their 3-0 home defeat by Millwall – probably the biggest shock result of the weekend.
Suddenly the Clarets are stopped in their tracks. And we will all discover a little bit more about new boss Eddie Howe as to how he copes with the first moment of real adversity in his fledgling managerial career at Turf Moor.
Will Rangers really wobble at the top of the table? Can Norwich really over-haul them on the way to two title triumphs in successive seasons?
Part of you these days suspects anything is possible under the Lambert watch; there was a very telling moment in the recent Aviva-backed ‘TeamTalk’ event at the Odeon were Dion Dublin asked the 300-strong audience whether they would now see missing out on promotion this season as a ‘disappointment’?
And barely a hand raised in agreement; everything is a bonus from now on; it is all icing on the survival cake.
Which may explain why the level of frustration is not of the same magnitude as it is at a Forest or a Cardiff.
Certainly the Bluebirds punters have long expected this to be their season – a new stadium and the return of the prodigal in the shape of Craig Bellamy builds such expectations.
Particularly when one of those denying you your ‘rightful’ place in the promotion race is them down the road.
For Cardiff’s finest, the only saving grace to missing out on second spot will be the sight of Norwich – potentially – denying Swansea that prize.
But that’s someone else fight. Norwich’s challenge is to keep looking forward; to avoid such local distractions. The goal is within their reach.
Just keep looking forward.