Will Preston’s gallant penalty shoot-out defeat to Bournemouth give their league form a kick-start?
The answer to that will come against Wolves today and next Saturday at Sheffield Wednesday.
A couple of positive results from those two would send the Lilywhites heading into the next international break in far ruder health than present.
There were signs in midweek of an improvement, even though it was not a Cherries team at full strength which they were facing.
Having said that, it would not have taken much to improve on that lifeless second-half performance witnessed at Brentford last week.
Credit where it is due, North End pushed Bournemouth all the way after steadily getting to grips with their visitors from the south coast.
It showed some character to dig out firstly an 85th-minute equaliser through Jordan Hugill and then a second leveller even closer to the end of extra time through Daniel Johnson’s penalty.
It was just a shame that DJ could not repeat that piece of 118th-minute accuracy when it came to the shoot-out.
The same thinking applies to Hugill and Alan Browne who also had their penalties saved, blots on an otherwise encouraging night’s work.
Should North End bag up the character and fight they showed in midweek, things bode well. However, if the downward trend of results continues, it is going to be a long, hard winter ahead.
The cameo appearance of Hugill was one to catch the eye of those inside Deepdale.
I say cameo, as he only came off the bench in the 73rd minute, but he got an extra half-hour on top of that and the penalties.
Hugill is a little bit of a throwback in terms of his style of centre-forward play.
The lad has a physical presence, one he has not always used wisely, as two red cards will tell you.
Given half a chance, Hugill will leave his mark on a match with defenders certainly aware they have been in a game.
In an era of ‘fake No.9s’, wide attackers and supporting midfielders, it is heartening to see a striker in his mould.
You wonder if Simon Grayson is tempted to start him anytime soon, as a foil for others to work off.
Or is he better used as an impact player off the bench, in the way he was against Bournemouth?
It is a ‘five into two’ equation which Grayson has on his hands for Wolves visit.
Joe Garner with who? I am assuming, making that statement, that Garner goes straight back in after his ban.
Hugill, Stevie May, Eoin Doyle or Will Keane?
There might be room for a third striker, Keane perhaps playing off the front two.
I thought Keane was decent in midweek, not man-of-the-match material like the sponsors thought, but decent all the same – in what was perhaps his best showing in a Preston shirt to date.
New boys May and Doyle are still finding their feet and there will be nothing like a goal to help them settle.
With regards the team as a whole, after falling into the bottom three of the Championship last week, the only way is hopefully up.
As the players adapt to this new level and with the odd loan or two added to the present bunch to increase the quality levels, fingers crossed for a gradual improvement.
With Bristol City struggling for points below them and MK Dons likewise just in front, that indicates the adjustment needed to make an impact in the Championship after promotion from League One.
The visit of Wolves to Deepdale is a fixture which can be traced back to when league football began.
On September 15, 1888, the sides met when the Football League’s first season was just a week old.
Over time they have played on 116 occasions.
The 1986/87 campaign saw Preston and Wolves together in the old Fourth Division, their meeting at Deepdale the feature in the LEP’s memory match section this week.
What I gleaned from the reaction to it on social media is that quality will never be forgotten, however much time has past.
Plenty of PNE fans joined me in going misty-eyed as we recalled Frank Worthington’s chip over the Wolves goalkeeper.
Slightly younger folk will have to take our word for it as to just how inch-perfect the veteran striker’s goal was, that is unless you can dig out an old VHS video of the game.
We got the tail-end of Worthington’s career here at North End but that goal justified him signing by itself.