Whoever it is - David Hopkin or another candidate - there is a certain something for a new manager to get his head around at Carlisle United approaching 2018/19.

As much as anything it comes down to the balance between how the club sees itself, and how the rest of us would like to see it.

The bigger the gap, the greater the potential for difficulty. This is not so much about fan-board relations, but what sort of size and status we think Carlisle should have in English football's fourth tier.

Hopkin, it is well-known, has done a magnificent job at Livingston. Few, it is said, expected the Almondvale club to threaten the top half of the Scottish Championship, never mind the promotion race.

Yet there they are, a newly-minted top-flight club. A triumph of the collective, and the underdog spirit, over expectations and budget.

Especially on the latter, it is why many feel Hopkin would be the perfect choice at a belt-tightened Carlisle. There would, though, be a different dynamic here, and whoever stands in Keith Curle's old position in front of the Paddock will have to be aware of it.

It is that, at League Two level, the thought of Carlisle being underdogs would be hard to stomach. Even if their finances are thinner than before, even if times are harder and a period of cold reality is upon us, would the fanbase accept a change of image in this respect?

Us against the world? In League Two? Many would prefer to think of the Blues as bigger than that.

No doubt owners and directors across the land are now scrambling to emulate Accrington Stanley as an example of a club punching above its weight.

There is surely much for everyone to learn from their success story. Not everyone, though, can be an Accrington, because not everyone is an Accrington from the beginning.

The men from the Wham Stadium harnessed their underdog status magnificently, as it appears did Livingston. Unity against the odds, with the right ingredients, can be a powerful force, at a time when rival clubs with greater pretensions are struggling for identity.

Accrington are the club that wouldn't die, with their small ground and relative pauper's budget. They have had a lot to rail against over the years and, as they got stronger, a lot of bigger jaws to aim at.

Admirably, they have done so, yet how would Carlisle feel at a similar starting point of low expectations? Does the Blues' history, and their general standing, allow anyone to think of them as the plucky small fry of their level?

Even if the budget is moving in that direction, and even if reality says they won't have it easy next term, we would prefer to imagine them differently. It is why some have never forgotten a comparison made by former boss Greg Abbott between United and "Bury and Rochdale", for instance; two clubs fans like to think Carlisle should outperform.

It is why suggestions of "overachieving" in 10th last season, as advanced by Keith Curle, jarred.

It is why one struggles to think of a Blues manager, at this level, who has got away with an image of a cornered animal other than Ian Atkins, who had little choice other than to assemble a team of fighters in the worst days of the Knighton era.

With Knighton, there was a common enemy, bigger in the public's mind than any other opponent. Now? It can not be pretended the current owners are vastly popular but it is hard to imagine a new boss confronting them them too hard politically, especially after signing up to their challenges and limitations.

Curle put himself forward as the manager making United think big, sometimes in spite of itself. More money, more aspirations, more "ambition". It was a picture many were happy to accept.

Curle also, though, spoke respectfully of his employers. It was not me-against-them very often because, you suspect, he knew some people wouldn't have it. The critical reaction from some when he highlighted the spending disparity between United and Luton last November may have been a further reminder as to what people do and don't expect of the Blues.

The new boss, then, must be a fit not only with what Carlisle have to offer financially, but also where the public thinks they should be. The best managers can step from one environment to a different one and flourish.

Some are a better fit when less is expected. John Ward, for instance, did a terrific job in leading Cheltenham up into League One, but when challenged to reverse a sudden decline at the Blues in 2008/9, could not do so with the control that had seemed apparent the previous year.

United, under Ward, had a swaggering home record for much of 2007/8. At Brunton Park, they rose to expectations and thrived under pressure. On the road, though, they were far from potent, winning just six games from 23, and it is notable that their more memorable away days that campaign came when they were up against it: at the City Ground, and at Elland Road in the play-off first leg.

When it was hoped they would stride into a ground of less stature and put their credentials on the table, it wasn't always so easy, and it was as though the necessary levels of adventure weren't there in defeats at, for example, Cheltenham, Yeovil and Bristol Rovers, all of whom finished 16th or below.

That United had a split personality and, when the wheels came off the next season, there was no sense of how to get them back on. The Blues did not have a scrapper's identity to fall back on.

Will they now? Is that what they are going to have to adopt, in this time of transition, with its extra accent on promoting youth and less emphasis on buying supposedly more certain performers?

Don't bet on the patrons of Brunton Park going for that - not without some very skilled salesmanship. However hard times are, it would be dangerous to imagine United's terraces and stands as a place for small thinkers.

There is a difference between being realistic, and settling for diminished goals. Whoever takes the job will have to know this. If it sounds like entitlement, it is not. It is simply an ingrained feeling that United are a big enough deal to walk confidently across the fourth division, and higher, rather than be grateful for any joy that comes.