For Aston Villa, Premier League survival won’t just mean they have avoided what to football clubs everywhere is anathema.
It could be the catalyst for their most successful period since the early 80s.
For most clubs, avoiding relegation is something to celebrate before moving swiftly on; for others, it is a dalliance that becomes a habit.
But for the current Villa side, retaining their top flight status could be the making of them.
Much has already been written above the average age of the side, the fact that manager Paul Lambert is working predominantly with “kids”.
But in so doing, the club’s struggles may be the most important lesson those young players ever learn.
In what is not the most technical of analogies, Lambert’s side are the most team-like of the relegation-threatened teams. They have and continue to grow together. And rather than capitulate in the face of adversity, a side with an average age of just 23 are fighting for all they are worth.
In such battles are players born.
And yes, I realise that sounds like a line from Game of Thrones but it is true.
And when a young side achieves something great – and surviving relegation following the season they have had would be a great achievement – they start to grow, and believe in themselves, and defy a little logic along the way.
Villa’s regular starting 11 this season contains eight players under the age of 24; and none older than 28.
They have solid foundations and talent aplenty. It is talent that in some cases took time to flourish. But we are now seeing what those youngsters can do.
It will be interesting to see what they can do when they are no longer youngsters.
There has been talk of summer departures for the likes of Christian Benteke and Matthew Lowton. But should Villa stay up, why would they leave?
They have shown what they can do in the face of adversity. In the seasons to come, they can be part of a new age at Villa Park.
Lambert surely didn’t envisage the struggles he would oversee this season. But he has almost steered them clear.
They are capable of winning their next two games at home to Sunderland and away to Norwich. Should they do so, their final match against Wigan may not be the winner-takes-all occasion it is being hailed as.
And perhaps in years to come this season will be seen as the one that changed everything…for the better.
How good do you think this Aston Villa side can ultimately be?
images: © little-pete