When Julen Lopetegui was paraded around the pitch before the Arsenal game in December it was clear he had a job on his hands.
Rousing the beleaguered, paper thin squad he inherited and getting them over the line in any game felt like climbing Everest.
But hope has quickly turned to belief in his short tenure and this comprehensive victory against the team we never beat gives further credence to the idea we’re moving in the right direction.
Liverpool are a mess, but pre-Christmas Wolves still wouldn’t have put them to the sword so this result owes to the good work that’s been done on and off the pitch in the last month and a bit.
It might have been an own goal that got the ball rolling but the inventive forward pass from Sarabia made it possible.
And if Dawson was just in the right place to slam home the second, that’s more than Kilman and Collins were able to produce in the first half of the season combined.
‘Things we didn’t have before’ would be a good motif for the victory and if one player personified the change it was Lemina, providing power and energy to our previously static midfield.
I hope the injury he suffered late on can be shaken off without fuss because we need him in the pivotal run of games to come.
It’s not all ‘out with the old’ though. Ruben put in another captain’s shift and scored a superb, killed third, ably assisted by tenacious midfield play from Moutinho and the raw pace of Adama.
And when he was called upon, Sa produced two fine saves to deny Darwin Nunez. That was a pleasing comeback following his shenanigans at The Etihad.
Our own Nunes didn’t have his best game and added another miss to a growing catalogue of wasted chances this season. But he stuck to his task well enough in an unfamiliar position out wide.
Collectively, the only criticism might be not coping better with the red tidal wave in the first 25 minutes of the second half. But we knew they’d come on strong and have the quality to dominate. And, having got the decisive third goal on the break it’s hard to argue with the game plan.
No, this is one to savour. A victory that owes to perfect planning, relentless effort and great execution by all involved at the club.
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say that.