Chris Beech said a lot of things after Tuesday night’s game but by far his most interesting comment – and, in the circumstances, his most pertinent – came early into his press conference.

“I’ve been working really hard individually with players, because they’ve been sleepwalking,” he said. “They need waking up.”

Carlisle’s new head coach was speaking about the need to go the extra “five yards” in order to commit to chances, crosses and so on. He might just as easily have been talking about careers.

Today is episode 21 of a relegation battle, a home game against Grimsby which offers both the possibility of climbing and the threat of being left in the mire.

Approaching halfway, we know where Carlisle are and where they must fight to get to, and this point in December is as good a time as any to say that seasons can speed past players if they are not careful, and bad ones can do all sorts of damage.

The last time United were relegated – from League One, in 2013/14 – they did so with an enormous cast list. Many were loan players drafted in from bigger clubs, while others may also have presumed they were simply passing through a troubled club.

They were: in the wrong direction, in many cases. Of the XI that started the final game of that season, a 3-0 defeat to Wolves, only two Carlisle players are now operating higher (Jordan Pickford and Brad Potts). Others have either retired, levelled off or, in a number of cases, gone south.

That campaign in general is a good example of what can easily happen in a grim situation and why it pays never to presume that you are doing Carlisle, or clubs in their state, a favour.

For every Pickford, after all, and other good hired hands of 2013/14 such as Tom Lawrence, Max Ehmer and Ben Amos, there is a…well, where do you start?

With Lucas Dawson, perhaps, or Nathan Eccleston, or Craig Roddan, or Reece Brown, or Danny Redmond, or Charni Ekangamene, or Adam Campbell…?

All those dropped down, in theory, to give the Blues a little assistance. They have since ventured further into obscurity, and this is before we consider the fate of some of the permanent players too.

It cannot have been in James Berrett’s mind, for instance, that when he turned down a two-year deal that summer he would end up, a few years on, at Grantham Town in the BetVictor Northern Premier Division.

Relegation, struggling times – they can shred careers which, until that point, must have felt perfectly positive. It is in the interests of many right now to ask where they would go next, should it not come off for them at Carlisle, third-bottom of the fourth tier.

If any player is still seeking the right circumstances before producing what he considers to be his best, having not done so in 20 games to date, he may find the future is the past before he realises it. In particular, if he has turned up at Brunton Park accustomed to bigger things, only to find that first-team life in League Two is not as comfortable as imagined, then the choice now ought to be clear.

It is either to do something about it, with all the resolve, urgency and professionalism that can be mustered, or it is to seek greener grass, jam tomorrow, another set of favours, someone else who might take a hunch on your CV and an agent’s line, rather than hard and present evidence.

It is not, at the moment, difficult to detect a sense of affront in parts of the north east at Elias Sorensen’s lack of first-team “minutes” with United. Those feeling perplexed at this may wish to consider watching the striker.

On Tuesday, another reserve game passed with little to celebrate, and the fact he is, in mid-December, without a first-team goal from four starts and eight substitute appearances ought to take the questions down a different road than the one simply implying Sorensen is the victim of harsh selection.

Beech is openly considering January changes, as anyone would in his position, and there are clearly some parts of the Carlisle squad riper for attention than others. Attack being one.

Ideally their present run of three draws and a win will, along with Beech’s new approach, prove the foundation for gradual improvement. Whatever happens, though, between today and January it is unlikely to save some from the chop and those who are cut may go away asking themselves if they did enough, or whether there are managers, coaches, players or various other individuals to blame before turning scrutiny on themselves.

The best ones will respond to the looming window and lift their game. An improvement in Nathan Thomas’ performances has been noticeable since Beech’s arrival and this is the sort of uplift that will be sought in others, and over a longer period.

“There’s definitely a player in there,” it is often said of inconsistent or high-maintenance pros, yet it can feel like a team of excavators is needed to find it – and what you do find is not a player but a hothouse flower that needs a long list of precise conditions in order to blossom.

If you are Beech it may be that you are looking for hardier individuals right now, and of those who have to be sourced from levels above, players of substance, not those who feel that they are only temporarily punching down.

A relegation scrap is draining and stressful enough without carrying passengers of fragile intent. Carlisle certainly have men you would take into the trenches – think Collin, Jones – but it would do nobody in the building any harm to heed Beech’s words, and listen to the alarm call, before it’s too late.