It's a conversation that, to this point, Chester FC haven't been a part of. But so abject was the Blues' performance in the home to defeat by Macclesfield Town on Monday that some now believe that Steve Burr's side should be involved in the relegation debate.
Following Monday's 2-0 horror show, which was a wet fish around the face to anyone still feeling festively chipper, some fans debated on Devachat, the club's unofficial messageboard, whether or not Chester are possible candidates for relegation.
Now, when you consider the club are 14th in the National League, nine points off the drop zone and seven points off a top-half finish which, let's not forget, was the target at the start of the season, it seems somewhat odd to even consider the prospect of entering a relegation battle. It hasn't even been a consideration thus far this term and all the noises coming out of the club suggested that even a late play-off bid wasn't out of reach, no mention of the dreaded drop.
For me, any play-off bid seems a little too far fetched as the current side, to put it bluntly, doesn't possess enough quality in depth to bridge that gap between mid-table and genuine contenders for a play-off berth. But I also think that, while right to be concerned about displays such as Monday's, the squad is good enough to pick up enough points to stave off the unthinkable.
Only last week Chester put on their best display of the season, dismantling an albeit poor Torquay United side 4-1. But that seems to have been dismissed by some as merely doing what was should be done against such opposition. But you can only beat what's in front of you and it would be churlish to discount a Gulls side as mere cannon fodder, especially when they beat promotion-chasing Forest Green Rovers by the same scoreline just days later.
But while I believe that the Blues have enough in the tank, I do think that it is right to flag up that they are by no means home and hosed in terms of National League safety. There are plenty of games between January and April and teams below us who had seemed dead and buried only weeks ago, namely Southport and FC Halifax Town, have come alive and breathed new life into their campaign. That is enough to convince me that Burr's transfer dealings in January are absolutely vital.
Weeks ago it seemed that so poor were the bottom sides that they simply wouldn't accrue the necessary points haul to get anywhere near safety. But while Chester have plodded, a win here, a loss there, some sides have put together an excellent run of form, the likes of which we haven't really enjoyed at any point this season.
Ross Hannah can't be solely responsible for making the difference for Chester. There are deficiencies in the current squad that need addressing if the club are to ensure they keep notching up the necessary points to keep them bobbing around mid-table and give them any hope of achieving their goal of a top-half finish.
The centre of midfield needs bite. Luke George is still playing catch-up following his injury and, for me, the team needs a ball-winner in the middle of the park, someone who can grab the game by the scruff of the neck. They don't need to be flashy, they need to be functional and experienced as far too often against Macclesfield the game passed the midfield men by. Burr, provided he is given the green light, must be on-the-money with any new blood.
But relegation? We all say things in the heat of the moment when the red mist descends, and the drive home from Monday's debacle would no doubt have allowed some Blues fans to stew on what was indeed a wretched display, one of the worst of the season. But some context must be applied here. Chester are closer to their pre-season target of a top-half finish that the relegation zone. And while they haven't set the world alight this season, they have done enough to keep themselves in sight of that goal.
I don't believe we'll be in the midst of a relegation scrap come the final weeks, but it has a higher probability than us troubling the play-off places and that in itself is enough to warrant some concern with regards to a lack of overall progress in non-league football's top tier. But with a number of winnable games on the horizon in January and February it is vital that the Blues shake off whatever festive hangover they had against the Silkmen and roll their sleeves up. Nothing is cut and dried in football and the Blues should be wary of resting on their laurels, there is far too much at stake.