“People’s opinions can get coloured by results,” complained John Ward. It was the hour of Carlisle United’s 1-0 defeat at Cheltenham in January 2008: a campaign when the difference between playing at home and playing away was particularly stark.

If Ward wanted views to be shaped by things other than the score on such nights, it was no wonder. The Blues’ travelling record that season was not, to say the least, worth shouting about.

In the context of what they were trying to achieve, it barely warranted a whisper. While Carlisle were record-breakingly formidable at home, they just could not crack it beyond Brunton Park, and if certain away games that season are indeed memorable – Monday night at Nottingham Forest, the 3-0 masterclass at Leyton Orient – they were, by and large, the exception.

While one half of their 2007/8 fixture list certainly set up a promotion chance, the other half sadly swiped it away, and while there might be different reasons why United blew up in the final lap – Joe Garner’s injury, Nicky Bailey’s malevolent presence, a conspiracy theory or two – it certainly did not help that, of their 23 away games, they failed to win 17: the same number they won at home.

News and Star: John Ward's 2007/8 side were brilliant at home, but too often failed to win awayJohn Ward's 2007/8 side were brilliant at home, but too often failed to win away

It resulted in the play-offs, and Leeds finishing off Carlisle’s best chance of second-tier football for a couple of decades. Had Ward been able to conjure just a little more of what came easily on Warwick Road when United travelled, promotion would have been comfortably automatic.

It is home form again that has propped up United’s chances in 2020/21 and for a while now this has developed into a campaign with two faces: one that’s hostile when teams come to Brunton Park, and one that’s friendlier elsewhere.

True, Carlisle would have taken any win, anywhere, to stop their recent bad run, but it cannot be too surprising that when it did come it was at HQ. The 2-0 victory over Crawley on Tuesday was their 11th win from 19 home games.

That is the most home victories of any League Two side other than leaders Cambridge (also on 11) even in spite of all the points dropped lately. United are also the division’s leading scorers at home with 35 goals and these are certainly figures worthy of genuine praise.

The difference on the other side of the chart, though, is considerable bearing in mind their away tally of won four, drawn four, lost nine was only better than that of bottom side Grimsby ahead of Easter weekend because the latter had played (and lost) one away game more.

Only two of the division's 24 have won fewer away matches, and the imbalance, so far, explains why United are mid-table and not higher, and if they are indeed to make the most of what Chris Beech has described as a “10-game season” now, this will not be done without becoming better travellers, and quickly.

Six games of that mini-season, after all, are away and if United’s points average on the road continues, it will barely add another six points to their total. The continuation of strong home form would yield more, but, overall, not enough to carry them into the top seven.

There ought to be no fundamental reason why United cannot be as effective in foreign territory, although the absence of supporters from games this season has clearly not rendered all grounds neutral. While one or two sides in Carlisle’s division have marginally better records away than at home, by and large it is still as you would expect.

Research published this week by Paderborn University, and reported by The Guardian, has found that while home advantage in Covid-emptied grounds has fallen by about a third, a clear statistical drawback is indeed still suffered by away teams.

News and Star: Can Carlisle end a three-month wait for an away win at Southend today? (photo: PA)Can Carlisle end a three-month wait for an away win at Southend today? (photo: PA)

Now, whether you put that down to psychology, the rigours of travel, unfamiliarity with surroundings or everyone having developed a phobia of sitting on coaches to Harrogate and back 28 times, it’s clear that some old patterns are far too ingrained for something as simple as a virus to remove them completely.

It tends to be the case, unsurprisingly, that the better United sides down the years have returned at least respectable away figures. Their 1981/2 promotion side more or less mirrored 2007/8’s near-missers but otherwise they’ve either gone up or hit the play-offs by winning a minimum of seven matches on the road.

There are anomalies, such as 2017/18, when Keith Curle’s Blues had the away prowess of a contender (10 wins) but the home reputation of an also-ran (seven wins), but more often than not Carlisle do well when they travel well, and level off when they stink out away settings, even when they're still dramatically stronger at home.

The sorry seasons of, for instance 2001/2, 1995/6 and 1990/1, each yielding a single away win, brought either relegation or struggle, and it must have taken some especially deep breaths by United’s fans when they filed onto buses and hit the motorways, knowing pretty much what was coming.

Carlisle, particularly at Port Vale, Crawley, Bradford and Walsall, have at least been better than that this season, and, in order to pull this challenge out of cold storage in the nick of time, hopefully they can repeat some of that against a diverse set of remaining hosts: Southend, Barrow, Newport, Bolton, Cheltenham, Leyton Orient.

Beech’s side have led in four other away games without winning them, which suggests they are capable of getting some of the job done. Learn how to finish it, and this season could have a splash of colour just yet.