The play-offs are now St Johnstone’s only route to Premiership safety.
But the Perth side still retaining control of their own destiny is significant, according to defender Dan Cleary.
And that was the primary objective when the Irishman arrived in Scotland during the depths of winter when Saints were a football club in the depths of despair.
“Listen, nobody is happy that we’re in this position,” said the former Liverpool and Dundalk centre-back.
“But from January we’ve had some very good results and have got ourselves off the bottom.
“There have been some disappointing results as well obviously but, all in all, I think we’ve improved a lot as a team and as individuals.
“I knew what I was coming into. I knew it would be a tough few months.
“I was ready for a fight and I haven’t shied away from it.
“I’m happy that it’s in our hands to stay up.”
Braver on the ball
Cleary believes Saturday’s draw with Livingston was a step in the right direction.
“We were much better than we were against St Mirren,” he said.
💪🎉 | Glenn Middleton with the opener on Saturday pic.twitter.com/23Ty6aoLs1
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) May 9, 2022
“It was a much-improved performance all round and a deserved point.
“We were gutted to concede so late off a set-piece but we’ll take the point.
“We were a lot braver on the ball.
“There were times when we played some good stuff.
“Mayso put a lot of pressure on their centre-halves and didn’t let them play.
“We were working hard all over the pitch.”
By the time Saints face Aberdeen on Wednesday night, Dundee’s result against Hibs may have given mathematical certainty to the automatic relegation issue.
It won’t affect the McDiarmid mindset either way, however.
“We’re not thinking about them (Aberdeen and Hibs) in terms of the play-offs,” said Cleary.
“We’re just thinking about winning two massive games in their own right.
“We want to pick up momentum on the back of the draw at Livingston.
“We don’t want to be a team that is inconsistent from game to game.
“Our aim is to find a high performance level and maintain it.
“We lost it with our defeat to St Mirren but other than that our results have been quite decent.
“We need to raise our standards and keep them there if we do go into the play-offs.”
Cleary was substituted at half-time in the draw with Dundee and then benched against St Mirren.
The weekend was a return to the starting line-up and a return to form.
“I was obviously disappointed to be left out last week,” he said.
“I’m happy to be back in and I’ll be trying to make sure I stay there by keeping my own performance level high.
“Saturday was a much better performance from all of us on the ball and off it.”