Callum Davidson admits competing for third place on the eve of the World Cup break has exceeded all St Johnstone expectations.
The Perth boss hopes their hot streak extends to four wins and a draw from five matches when hosting Motherwell today.
Saints could even go into the shutdown as ‘best of the rest’ in the division with a win, an Aberdeen loss to Dundee United and a Hearts-Livingston draw.
Victories over Hibernian, Kilmarnock and Rangers then Wednesday night’s dramatic draw at St Mirren have taken Saints sixth.
They are only two points shy of the Dons in third spot after playing 15 matches.
Davidson, however, cautions it will be a challenge to remain in the hunt for high rank in a tightly-packed Premiership.
The McDiarmid Park manager said: “I know it’s tight but we’re competing for top six and third place – where we want to be.
“You look at sections of the season and, for this one, we’re way ahead.
“We’ve performed really well and got some good results.
“No matter what happens against Motherwell, it’s been a good start.
“Can we stay the course? That’s the big question. We’re there just now, it’s been great because last season was really difficult mentally for everyone.
“I believe the group, if we get them fit, healthy and working hard, has a really good chance of finishing top six.
“It will be psychologically good to be there at the break.
“But, listen, we always look below us too. It would be stupid not to – because it’s so tight.
“One or two wins for a team like us pushes you up into the top six. So it’s really important to keep trying to win games.”