There have been many fine free-kicks scored at Brunton Park over the years but surely not many better, or beautifully brutal, than Simon Davey’s against Shrewsbury during the 1993/4 run-in.

If you were there, you are sure to remember it; if not, YouTube is your friend. Davey is miles from goal as he places the ball. Nobody else in blue is interested in it, for they – and the opposition, no doubt – know what is going to be attempted.

Carlisle’s captain takes enough steps back to give the impression of a rugby player eyeing a conversion. He then tucks his feet together, begins his stride and, not to put too fine a point on it, absolutely leathers the ball.

It screams past the poor goalkeeper, still rising as it crashes into the top corner of the goal. Davey stands with one arm in the air then wheels away, pursued by team-mates.

United cut down the Division Three champions that night, and that goal was the stamp of what they had become: a team on the rise, and – just as importantly – who knew it.

For much of that campaign, Carlisle were not a side accustomed to flattening good teams. Until the middle of February they were bumbling along on a meagre 1.18 points per game. A surging finish, though, nearly doubled that ratio, 10 wins from 14 taking Mick Wadsworth’s team into the play-offs.

They then fell to Wycombe, not quite ready for the step up, but the following campaign was one of the most dominant in their history. United were primed, enhanced by a couple of canny signings, and also with another helpful thing behind them: momentum.

They had grown used to winning, had put mediocrity a little further into the past. We are approaching the equivalent point in the year from which that great gallop took place and while this is not a prediction it will happen here, it is still a reminder that there can be useful things to target from the middle part.

Carlisle’s current unbeaten run of four games will be put to the test against Swindon today, and it is too early to describe Chris Beech’s team as transformed. Recent weeks have, though, shown the Blues in a much healthier state of mind and ideally this will continue to be reflected in results.

That must be the goal. If we regard relegation as a diminishing risk now – with 11 points the gap, it really should be, even with United’s historic habit for melodrama – then a sunnier outlook would say that the next two-and-a-half months should be as much about next season as this.

If Carlisle go into the summer having finished this term well, then Brunton Park has a different feel. Last season they fell from a good position into an average one and that trajectory was reflected in supporters’ mood. A hop in the other direction, on the back of a largely well-received January of trading (and who knows what else ownership-wise) and there will be grounds for thinking 2020/1 could deliver something much better.

That’s how it was at the start of 1994/5. United by then had a reputation for winning and went into that campaign with great expectation. They met it superbly and not for nothing are there events planned soon to mark the 25th anniversary of that resounding time.

There are other examples. 1988/9 saw Carlisle rise from what then appeared a traditional basement struggle and, with a closing run of seven wins and seven draws from 18 games, climbed to mid-table. By then some of their better features had been identified by Clive Middlemass, and this overlapped into a surprisingly good start to 1989/90 which, were it not for injuries to a thin and shattered squad, would have delivered play-offs, minimum.

A club’s long-term health does of course depend on many deeper factors (United, after 1990, fell back into struggle and penury) but there is no saying what a decent tailwind can do for you. The 2003/4 season was really two campaigns in one: the Roddy Collins-authored devastation, the Paul Simpson-inspired cavalry charge.

Even as they went down, Carlisle were revitalised. Simpson and his cluster of hardened signings had restored professionalism and a winning ethic. No wonder they came straight back up.

No wonder, too, that a bright finish to 2006/7 in League One saw 2007/8 unfold superbly, the closest Carlisle have got to the second tier since the 1980s. And no wonder negative momentum, too, often bleeds from the end of one season into the next; think of the bitty 2012/13 campaign, and the dreadful start to the next one, likewise the 2014 crossover.

The point is: a team, a club, can tell you a lot about itself by the way it performs on the final laps. It was an extremely pleasing development to see Carlisle come from two goals down at Mansfield, their first such fightback in the league for more than two years, and if that is allied to generally better performance levels then this season could yet be remembered for an overdue reshaping of expectations; ours and theirs.

A bad summer, and other unfortunate events, can always sabotage momentum. Clearly there are no guarantees. Imagine, though, how we’d all feel if, come April 25, United are a few miles on from that team who lost or drew most weeks in the autumn.

Imagine if we have started to think of them differently and more reliably. Imagine what fuel that could be to Beech. Imagine reaching August, and another new start, with a better all-round perception of the Blues.

Let that be the aim, then, as true and as direct as Davey’s rocket.