The 2016/17 Championship season is nothing more than a distant, painfully fond memory for Fulham. It was a campaign which saw the plucky south-west Londoners barge their way into the promotion places to compete for the right to become a Premier League outfit once again.
But, as the club's fans will know, an agonising two-legged 2-1 defeat at the hands of Reading condemned the Whites to yet another gruelling year in the Championship. But how well have Slavisa Jokanovic's men coped thus far this season?
The hard work continues here at Motspur during the International break! ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/2PXgz6t5nE— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) 4 October 2017
Occupying 10th in the table with 17 points, 4 wins, 5 draws, 2 defeats and a +4 goal difference is a somewhat spurring record on the surface. Being just 3 points off of 6th spot shows that although there is still sufficient work to be done, Fulham find themselves on the right path to success, despite residing in the middle of the pack.
Much was anticipated from the free-scoring 'Barcelona' of England's second division during the summer, with many promising signings flying through the door. The likes of Rui Fonte, Sheyi Ojo and Yohan Mollo, not to mention the resigning of Chelsea's Tomas Kalas and Lucas Piazon on a temporary basis, have all arrived.
A top drawer hitman is what the Whites were pining for after scoring 85 goals last term, however for Fonte and Aboubakar Kamara most notably, the start of the season started with some frustration in front of the target.
Kamara, an acquisition from Ligue 1 side SC Amiens, threatened and probed opposing defences but failed to find the target early doors, and Fonte had to wait until August 26th to register his first and only goal for Fulham against Ipswich from an acute angle. But more is surely to come.
Bagging a header against Middlesbrough and coolly slotting home against Nottingham Forest, Kamara, 22, appears to be finding his feet with his new employers, silencing a few of his own critics in the process.
Former SC Braga man Fonte ruefully skied a penalty against QPR at Loftus Road before the October international break, however the Portuguese national was at the time still returning to full compliment after an injury setback, so that particular faux pas can be brushed under the carpet.
Holding on in the dying moments is still a factor which Fulham will need to iron out over the coming weeks, though. With 'Slav's' men being 1-0 to the good, a late goal from Boro's Cyrus Christie levelled the proceedings to 1-1, highlighting the flaws in the Whites' defensive ranks, as they struggled to find order and clear their penalty area.
Perhaps it's purely a lapse in concentration and mentality, but it's certainly a cocktail of weaknesses which needs to be banished as soon as possible, if they're to progress to the summit of the standings.
Defeating Hull City 2-1 at Craven Cottage was a measure of Fulham's ability to scalp the 'bigger fish' in the Championship, but falling victim to a 2-1 defeat against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium in the following fixture showed that there's simply no place for complacency against any given opponent on the day.
Manning the sticks is a hotly contested responsibility in any squad, and for Fulham in particular, fans were sceptical of David Button's qualities after a few calamitous moments prior to the season's kick-off. Marcus Bettinelli was ruled out through injury in the early stages of the season, handing Button the opportunity to stamp his mark.
The 28-year-old has been fairly assured ever since, becoming the club's current first choice, with 2 clean sheets from 11 appearances to his name.
In Thomas Cairney's absence from the starting XI, Stefan Johansen has been a shining light for Fulham, scoring 3 goals this term from the middle of the park, including a marvellous finish on the edge of QPR's penalty area - Cairney would have been proud.
With all of the fresh personnel in the set-up, Johansen has continued to exemplify why he's an undisputed starter, and will continue to terrorise defences alongside the Scotsman, with Fulham's influential number 10's reemergence imminent.
If alarm bells are ringing, there's simply no need to be anxious or wary in a Fulham supporter's perspective. There's still a long way to go in the campaign, and they'll certainly be a catalogue of triumphs, twists, and toiling turns to befall them before the season's curtain call.
But, if Jokanovic's resurgent men endeavour and strive to prove themselves as the undoubted best footballing outfit in the division, they'll certainly be in and amongst the mix for promotion once May comes knocking once again.