When you sit on the fringes of the play-off places at the turn of the year, you have every right to believe that a promotion push may be on the cards.
Half of the season, or as good as, has been successfully negotiated and you have established a solid base on which to build.
Sometimes, though, even the best-laid plans can come crashing down and a season of promise can quickly descend into one of pain and suffering.
Unfortunately for Cheltenham Town, that is the course their campaign has taken in 2010/11.
A steady yet unspectacular opening saw them establish a positive standing in League Two, suggesting recent relegation troubles had been laid firmly to rest.
Then, things went wrong.
Just three victories have been picked up in their last 20 outings, with it pretty obvious what kind of effect such a run has had on their league placing.
They have avoided being dragged into the middle of a basement battle, having got points on the board early on, but have flirted with disaster on occasion.
Only the failings of those below them have kept them at a comfortable distance from the drop zone, with 14 points from a possible 60 very much bottom-two form.
Cheltenham can, however, rest easy in the knowledge that they will still be plying their trade in the fourth tier next season, with their Football League status safe enough for now.
There is, as you would expect, a sense of disappointment around the Robins camp at the manner in which their season imploded, but they are refusing to dwell on the negatives and claim focus has already been switched to what they hope will be a productive 2011/12 campaign.
"After January the form hasn't been great and we tailed off after that," experienced defender Steve Elliott told skysports.com's Chris Burton.
"It's nice to be safe even though we haven't got anything left to play for this season. We are all looking forward to next season already.
"It is a long, hard season in League Two. You have to go to some faraway places on some long trips, staying overnight, so it's nice when the summer comes around and you can go and get a bit of sun and recharge the batteries."
Having already cast an eye towards next season, those on the books at Whaddon Road are bracing themselves for a busy summer, with it imperative that fresh faces are drafted in if the club are to move forward.
"We will get this season out of the way first and then the manager has to sort out the ins and outs and what's going on," said Elliott.
"I'm sure it will be a busy summer and hopefully we will have a few new bodies to help bolster the squad a bit. We do have a small squad and we have been lucky that our discipline has been superb this season and we haven't had too many injuries. We have been lucky there, but I think he [Mark Yates] will be looking to bolster the numbers in the summer.
"I think for three or four of the lads, this is their first season in League football and they have played over 40 games in League Two. It's a long, hard slog in this division and I think it took its toll on them in the last part of the season. But they will learn and benefit from it and be stronger next season."
A small squad, even by League Two standards, has hardly helped Cheltenham's cause this season, but Elliott believes there have been a few other factors responsible for their sudden tumble down the standings.
He said: "It's not massively surprising to be honest. We are a decent footballing side and when the pitches started to turn a bit and got a bit worse for wear, our performances dropped a bit and we couldn't quite grind out results, which we needed to do. But we will learn from it and we will be better for it. Hopefully we can add to the squad and have a bigger push next season."
Elliott, one of the older heads at the age of 32, also feels that the Robins' promising youngsters will have benefited from a season of struggle, with you sometimes having to take knocks in order to learn how to respond to them.
"It can play on your mind," he said when asked how the squad have handled the alarming results wobble.
"You need to just learn how to take each game as it comes. Looking at the table, we started looking down. It's been frustrating in a lot of ways but it has been a good experience for the young lads. Hopefully things will go a bit better next season."
Elliott only joined Cheltenham at the start of the current campaign, following a six-year stint at Bristol Rovers, but he insists he has no regrets at having made the move to Whaddon Road.
He said: "It was nice that I could stay in the South West because I'm settled down here. I didn't want to move, so it was a decent move for me. I have enjoyed it, it's been good. The squad is young and hungry and it has been great to be involved with a club like that again. I have enjoyed it and I have still got another season on my contract so I can look forward to next season now."
The closing stages of the campaign have seen Elliott nursing a niggling Achilles injury, but he is confident the problem will not require treatment over the summer.
He said: "It just needs a rest I think, to help settle it down. It's been bothering me since Torquay away, just over a month ago now. I have been managing it in training and just trying to get through the games, but you don't really want to be doing that. It's just about resting it now and trying to be ready for pre-season."
With injury concerns put to one side, and with a hectic summer ahead, Elliott is hoping he can play a part in ushering Cheltenham into what he believes will be a bright future.
He said: "The club is looking to move forward. They have spent the last couple of seasons at the wrong end of the table, but they haven't been in the most stable of financial positions. The chairman has helped to steady things and start working towards a profit. There is a lot of potential, so it is looking bright at the moment."
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