Burnley are currently enjoying their longest undefeated streak in top flight English football for over 40 years but they are still looking over their shoulders at possible relegation.
Manager Sean Dyche points to the drain of Europe as one of the reasons behind the Clarets' slow start that put them in such a position before a "low moment" against Everton on Boxing Day turned the Clarets' form upside down.
European campaign not enjoyable
Speaking to TalkSport, Dyche admitted that he had been warned on numerous occasions about the perils of qualifying for Europe. He explained that "the media make you aware straight away and I spoke to other managers about how difficult it is."
Dyche explained the process of putting together an efficient pre-season as "confusing." He described how he battled with "making sure we didn't bring the players back too early, giving them a good rest and not causing problems with the psychology side of things."
The long-serving boss also suggested the Europa League qualification schedule did Burnley no favours, stating they "were all over the place" with trips to Turkey and Greece. However, the Clarets were drawn against Aberdeen, the closest side they could have been paired with, in the first contest of the qualification campaign.
The knock-on effect was a period of form only suitable for relegation candidates. Burnley found themselves faced with the real possibility of slipping through the trap door, compounded with the damning 5-1 defeat at the hands of Everton on Boxing Day.
Dyche described that result as a "bottoms up" moment. He added, "even though we played well, we sat down and had a big discussion about what had happened."
Yet the Clarets have since responded with four wins and three draws from their last seven league fixtures, an undefeated record second only to Manchester United at present.
Strikers make the difference
Dyche puts the change of form down to the players' attitude but, in particular, the form of his main strikers, Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes. He explained, "we have a great group of forwards but Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have been excellent since Christmas. We try and get the ball forward to them as quickly as possible."
With the Clarets out of the FA Cup, the whole squad and coaching staff are currently enjoying a spell of warm weather training in Portugal.
The manager added, "it is not often you get the whole group together for these sorts of trips due to international breaks. But everyone is with us, even the injured players."
There is still plenty of work for Burnley to do in their attempts to avoid relegation but a similar trip last season resulted in 15 points from their next six games. A repeat performance will ensure the Clarets maintain their Premier League status for at least another season.