Sunderland won three of their first six games this season (two of those were in the league cup), and everyone assumed that would continue. But it did not. The Black Cats then failed to win the next 14 games, losing 8 of those.
It was a disastrous run that saw the back of manager Simon Grayson. And after losing his first game in charge to Aston Villa, Chris Coleman broke the streak and guided Sunderland to a 0-2 win over Burton Albion.
Suddenly Sunderland appeared to be back in business. Up next for them is Reading, and then league-leaders Wolves a week later. So now the real work begins.
It's all well and good beating Burton (who were three points ahead of Sunderland before their clash at the bottom of the table) but Reading are a decent mid-table side and Wolves are supreme right now.
So what can Sunderland do to get a second consecutive victory? How can they line-up?
Goal and Defence
In goal Robbin Ruiter keeps his place by virtue of their being no one else. The back four of Adam Matthews, John O'Shea, Tyias Browning and Bryan Oviedo is reasonably talented, but the smarter thing for Coleman to do here would be to switch to a back three/back five.
He has Paddy McNair fit and available, so why not slot him into defence instead of using him in midfield? Having McNair and Browning either side of him would provide John O'Shea with the kind of protection he could use to play his best defensive self.
With five men at the back (three when Sunderland have the ball), it's then up to midfield to be solid and workman-like. Able to move from front to back and keep the ball circulating nicely. To this end, simply pair Lee Cattermole and Jack Rodwell.
Cattermole is club captain and an obvious choice, but Rodwell is currently an outcast, although as the most talented midfielder at the club, he is definitely worth taking a chance on. According to Chronicle Live, Coleman has said he'll "give him anything he wants because he has to play more." So now is the time to do that, play him!
Callum McManaman and Aiden McGeady played as wingers in a four-man midfield, but here they would be pushed up into attack. With the wing-backs handling tactical width duties, McManaman and McGeady, two exceptional dribblers, would be free to look for spaces where they can penetrate and punish opponents.
Up-front Lewis Grabban is an assassin. With 10 goals so far this season only four Championship players have scored more. The formula is simple, hit him with crosses and passes, keep him well supplied in chances he can turn into goals and good things will follow.
A change of system would give Sunderland more defensive solidity, which is really what they crave (the clean sheet against Burton was their first of the season).
It creates a stable platform that they can build on, hiding the flaws of their most experienced defender whilst also freeing their full-backs up to play as wing-backs and support their attack with relentless consistency.
Moreover, giving McManaman and McGeady license to get closer to Grabban would create more quality attacking opportunities for the side as the 29 year-old striker wouldn't have to do it all himself.