In his first and only full season with Carlisle United, Kyle Dempsey scored 11 goals. Easily the best - the strike that said the most about a player who was never likely to remain at the club for long - came in the worst performance of all.

Accrington Stanley, April 6, 2015. "Male genitalia" day. Carlisle 3-0 down after a performance so bankrupt it almost needed the state to bail it out.

In the 90th minute, Dempsey picked up the ball outside the Accrington box. After battling past a couple of challenges, the 19-year-old dropped his shoulder and blasted it hard into the net.

There appeared no joy in his demeanour; only anger. A few weeks later, I asked Dempsey about that goal. Was it how it had looked - the work of someone so furious at the shambles around him that he had decided to take things into his own hands, just to send his laces through the ball, for all the good it would do?

Dempsey nodded. "It was just frustration that had built up over the game. I got the ball and was like, that is it, I'm just gonna go at him. I took the defender on, got knocked down, got back up, smacked it in the back of the net and just wanted to run back and get that game over and done with as fast as we could, because that was possibly the worst performance we'd put in all season. It was shocking."

A couple of months later, Dempsey was gone, to Huddersfield. He had ability, no question of that, but what made the young man - the quality most likely to carry him through a positive career - was his attitude.

That day in Lancashire, he was the player who raged the most against the mediocrity Carlisle were laying on. He knew it wasn't good enough. He hated everything about it. One hopes there is a little of Dempsey left in those who will carry the Blues through their final 19 games of this season, too.

Who has the same anger, the same wrath, to confront where United are right now? Mid-table in the fourth tier, with thoughts of a play-off run precarious at best, and without a foundation of form from their first five months of 2017/18?

We will soon find out. Yes, there have been uplifts at times, such as Sam Cosgrove's emergence, the improvement of Jack Bonham and the general reliability of Clint Hill. Overall performance, though, has not been good enough and you could hear the intolerance of a pattern of average results and displays in what supporters were saying after Tuesday night's FA Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

It is not that United went out at Hillsborough to a Championship club, the view seemed to be. It is that they did so without doing enough to threaten the alternative.

The road to improvement lies in straight-talking, firstly. So let it be said that Carlisle's levels have dropped this season, that their squad (injuries notwithstanding) looks weaker than it did last year, and that whatever has been said by those running the show, the actions have not yet reflected the good talk.

Their team is not without experience, or players with pedigree at this level, so when will consistency come, given that it hasn't already? Are we, in fact, already in a transitional period both of team and club, where United are like the sort of Kindle book you wish would hurry up to 100 per cent, so that you can move on to a better one?

Unless that winning run comes out of hiding, we are 19 games from an overhaul, another dismantling. The recruitment of summer 2016, on well-travelled players with the background to lead a promotion push, did not quite pay off and looks even less like delivering this season.

Hence, without a spike in the next few weeks, several will no doubt go. As for Keith Curle, it is hard to be sure about his future even after recent noises from the top, including chief executive Nigel Clibbens' comment that the club "would like it to be the case" that the manager remains beyond this summer.

In the same press conference, Clibbens referred to "changes" United were seeking to make, in order to bring the community closer - in other words, spending more money on broader parts of the club rather than just the first team.

You could drive a bus through those lines if you wished to find possible ground where hierarchy and manager might not find complete harmony down the line, particularly if form on the pitch stays the same or gets worse, and those in charge want to present a higher-minded case for looking elsewhere.

Certainly, the actions, regarding Curle and any new contract, will prove more meaningful than words. The same will apply to the often stated internal desire for regime change, considering we are approaching the 10th anniversary of "custodian" ownership without new investment. Fans, meanwhile, also now have to weigh up recent talked-about improvements in other areas, like catering and boardroom communication.

Again - those high up in the Leppings Lane End on Tuesday sounded fed up of watching a movie they knew was not good enough, and you could understand their thoughts bearing in mind this risks being the second-worst Carlisle finishing position in the Football League in the last 13 years.

There are always others worse off, some will caution, as criticism flows. Yet that should not always be the fall-back. No doubt a few Hartlepool supporters are currently wondering how bad things really were when they sacked Mick Wadsworth when 13th in League One and the stewardship of Increased Oil Recovery was progressing with limited popularity.

What has happened there since is a reasonable warning that change, on pitch and off, is not always as refreshing as it initially seems. In Carlisle's case, the same crystal ball would have us, in a few years' time, looking back wistfully at those mid-table finishes under Greg Abbott, and the unglamorous security that the current owners (mainly Andrew Jenkins) provided.

Yet there is a line between using that thought as a brake against reckless strategy, and also settling upon it as an excuse for second-rate. The number of clubs of similar size and history currently punching higher than Carlisle suggests not everyone has to do a Hartlepool after seeking a new road.

It could be worse, yes, but it could also be much better. If a club and its fans aren't striving for the latter, at all times, then what is the point?

It is a question all with a stake ought to be asking. Anyone quietly comfortable with what United have done and are doing this season should give themselves the sort of shake Kyle Dempsey gave to that net in Accrington, when he knew things weren't right, not by miles.

He was bloody furious about it. So, in due course, we should all be again.