Milan picked up three key points on the road at Bologna on Sunday night, as a Krzysztof Piatek penalty and strikes from Theo Hernandez and Giacomo Bonaventura helped move Stefano Pioli's men into the top half of the Serie A table.
It had been a dire start to season for the Rossoneri, resulting in the sacking of Marco Giampaolo in October, with the experienced Pioli tasked with picking up the pieces.
With just two wins in seven heading into this one, however, it had been a similarly sticky start to life for the former Fiorentina and Lazio boss.
So when they found themselves two goals ahead just after the half hour mark, after Piatek had converted a penalty following a clumsy foul from Mattia Bani and Theo Hernandez had scored a second at the back post from a terrific assist from Suso, it would have served as a much-needed lift for their spirits.
Bonaventura struck a third early in the second half after an own goal by Hernandez just before the break had threatened to make a real game of it, but Milan would defend their two-goal lead with a relative degree of comfort for much of the second half - much to their beleaguered manager's delight.
Nicola Sansone did find the net with five minutes remaining to take the shine off the result, but Milan dug deep and saw out an important result that moved them above their hosts and into 10th place - where they sit level on points with Torino and just one behind both Parma and Napoli.
They have some work to do if they are to claw a route into the top six, with a seven point chasm existing between Atalanta and the teams beneath them, but if Milan can keep up performances like this one then they may fancy their chances over the remainder of the season.
Bologna, meanwhile, sit four points behind Milan, and having now failed to win in seven games in all competitions, they may herald some fears of being dragged into a relegation dogfight.
They face Atalanta next week before what could be a key tie with Lecce, who sit just a point behind them as things stand.