Brighton arrive at Deepdale to face Preston this weekend top of the Championship and bang in form – their sights set on the Premier League.
The Seagulls have won their last six games, five of those in the league.
Over Christmas they went to the summit, leapfrogging Newcastle, and now hold a two-point lead over the Magpies – together with a game in hand.
They look well equipped to improve on last season’s push for promotion which ended in disappointing fashion in the play-off semi-finals.
In Glenn Murray, they have one of the Championship’s best strikers – the Cumbrian has scored 15 goals this term.
At the other end of the pitch, their defence is the meanest in the division, having conceded only 15 goals in 24 league games.
North End netted two of those in their draw at the Alex Stadium in October – Jordan Hugill and Simon Makienok on target.
Reading and Brentford are the only other clubs to have scored twice in a league game against Chris Hughton’s men.
Brighton will be without a player who has contributed so much to that good defensive record, when they face PNE.
Centre-back Lewis Dunk serves the second of a two-game ban for reaching 10 bookings – the same fate has fallen on Preston midfielder Ben Pearson.
Dunk’s replacement next to Shane Duffy in the centre of the Albion back four will be Connor Goldson.
It is fair to say that Goldson cannot speak highly enough of the man he standing in for.
“Personally I think he is the best player in the league,” said Goldson.
“As a centre-half I think he goes a bit unnoticed but I don’t think there is anyone better than him.
“No disrespect to us as a team but I think he could play for whoever he wants.
“He has got the right attitude, he just needs to keep performing as he is and I’m sure he will go on to be what he wants.”
Goldson is looking forward to rare outing in the Brighton starting XI at Deepdale.
He said: “We all know Dunky is suspended, so hopefully I have a chance to play another game.
“Myself and Shane played away at Wigan together when we won 1-0, so we’ve played before and in training too.
“He’s a good player and a good defender, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get an understanding with him.
“We are both good players and defenders, as are all of the centre-halves at this club. No matter who plays, we know our jobs and what we have to do.”
Goldson says Brighton’s target when they make the long trip to Lancashire will be to keep their winning run going.
Revenge for PNE snatching a draw against them three months ago is, he insists, not an issue.
Said Goldson: “We are professional and approach every game in the same way.
“ It doesn’t matter whether they took points off us at the Amex or not, we just want to win every game.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Preston, Newcastle in second or Rotherham, who are bottom of the league.
“We go into every game with a team that knows how to get three points and hopefully that will be the same on Saturday.
“We believe in ourselves and we’ve done well everywhere we’ve gone this season. Hopefully it will be no different at Preston.”