Ali McCann’s development into a goalscoring midfielder has taken the young St Johnstone star by surprise.
And the Northern Ireland under-21 international even joked that his first two goals for the Perth club were glorified tackles!
By Boxing Day the 20-year-old had already firmly established himself in Tommy Wright’s starting line-up, making 20 appearances in league and cup.
And when he got his first goal in Saints colours – a late winner at Hamilton – McCann didn’t stop there.
After the winter break there was a run of three in four games – against Kilmarnock, Hearts and Aberdeen.
All helped secure precious points, with the surge beyond the centre-backs and calm finish at Pittodrie the pick of the bunch.
McCann only scored once in his loan spell in League One with Stranraer the previous season and he has admitted that the new facet of his game came as a pleasant surprise.
“I think my first two goals were slide tackles!” he reflected.
“It was weird because I’ve never really scored growing up and then scored four in seven.
“I kept finding myself in good positions and managed to put them away. Murray Davidson always tells me not to get into the box too early and arrive late.
“That is where I have got most of my goals from. But I don’t think I’ll be setting myself targets because it would be playing on my mind if I was falling behind.”
It isn’t just the goals that have made this season a dream first top flight campaign for McCann. Putting down roots as a regular starter at such a young age and playing a part in a remarkable team revival would have been more than enough.
“I just wish we could have kept going,” he said.
“But looking back it has been great and I have been involved in every league game. There is no way I could have expected that at the start of the season.
“When we come back we need to pick up where we left off. As a club we were doing well and you never know where we could have finished.
“We had been in good form since December and I think we had only lost three games.
“If we played the Hibs game and won that, we’d obviously be sitting in sixth. We were going into that game full of confidence.
“The group as a whole, even when results weren’t going our way, were still plugging away like usual. We knew the results would come.
“Personally I felt that, when the results did come, you could express yourself and I was really enjoying it.
“I’m just thinking about matching what I have done this year – and then try to better it.”
It’s no surprise that he became an instant fans’ favourite at McDiarmid Park. McCann is a strong candidate for Scottish football’s young player of the year and the supporters’ song claiming he is better than French legend Zinedine Zidane should be up for Scottish football’s chant of the year.
“I think Ayr away was the first time I heard it,” said the Saints academy product. “Loads of fans came down that day, considering the conditions were awful.
“But they were still singing my name and that was cool. I’m certainly no Zidane but it’s nice to hear the fans singing it.
“You don’t let it affect you, but I can hear it. During the game I can hear it and it gives you a wee bit of confidence.”
McCann’s family home is as good a place as any for a lockdown. One of his brothers, Lewis, plays for Dunfermline. There’s another, Ross, who is a Scotland sevens rugby player and the youngest, Scott, is a boys’ club footballer.
Finding a staying fit buddy shouldn’t be a problem.
Ali said: “We have been keeping ourselves ticking over until further notice. At the start we didn’t think it would go on this long.
“I think everyone has been going out and exercising every day because there isn’t much else you can do.
“The difficult thing is there isn’t a set date when we’re coming back. It’s up in the air. You need to keep yourself in good enough nick so that, when we do go back, you’ll be ready to play a game anyway.”