Carlisle United’s home support has dwindled to the point where it is consistently below the 4,000 mark. If any single fact highlights the need for an uplift, it is that.

Take away 2021/22’s opening day gate of 6,382, a figure inflated by a cheap ticket offer that lured 6,180 home supporters, and the Blues have, broadly speaking, lost more than 700 of their regulars already this season.

Alarm bells…

Other than that first afternoon against Colchester, their highest home fan figure for a league game this season is 4,589 for the Salford game in September.

Come early October and they were down to 3,849 for Forest Green’s visit – a drop of 740, or 16 per cent of that Salford figure.

The last two home games, against Tranmere and Oldham, have seen marginally more (3,932 and 3,854) but United’s loyal core is clearly declining in response to their barren form and status near the bottom of League Two.

Things are, to make a recent comparison, back down to the sort of levels we saw when Steven Pressley’s reign was reaching its endgame in autumn 2019.

United, as now, were struggling for results, even though they’d put more wins on the table than the current team have so far this campaign.

The qualified improvement under Chris Beech that season gradually restored a few more to the terraces and seats, while we'll never know how many would have enjoyed the better times in the first half of the Covid term of 2020/21.

But – and this is an obvious point – the basic evidence is that people are not engaged by a relegation battle nor the idea that there is a shortage of hope on the horizon.

This doesn’t mean United simply need to appoint a crowd-pleasing name as new manager – novelty can soon wear off if results don’t improve – but it does impress upon the club the need to hire someone people can believe in.

We are not yet close to the historic lows of Brunton Park league support. For that you need to go back to the mid to late 1980s and also the direst weekends of the Michael Knighton reign.

Come 1987/8, United had been relegated from the Second to Fourth Division and had made their home at the bottom end of the latter. Small wonder fans saw next to no reason to part with their cash.

News and Star: Home crowds had seriously dwindled by 1987 at Brunton ParkHome crowds had seriously dwindled by 1987 at Brunton Park

Attendances below 1,500 were not uncommon. The third-tier crash of 1986/7, which saw a record low goals return of 39 from 46 games, also took Carlisle into dismal places, numbers-wise.

The year 2000 saw a few empty afternoons at Brunton Park, while the fallow period before Knighton’s arrival, 1991-2, also saw many in the fanbase give up on United as a viable option on a Saturday. A sequence of low-level struggles kept things often below the 2,000 mark.

So: we’re not there yet. But holding this up as any form of relief would be akin to the school of thinking that says ‘At least we’re not Bury’ in terms of the overall shape of the club.

Yes, it’s jolly nice not to have gone bust. Could we, though, set our sights just a tad higher?

A tweet from Blues fan and photographer Martyn Haworth caught the eye over the weekend. He calculated that 5,650 days had passed since United were last promoted.

“That’s 15 years, five months and 18 days. Give me one reason why any young fan might think to themselves, ‘this is the club for me’.”

And this is the uncomfortable truth facing all those responsible for steering United right now, and gives broader perspective to a longer attendance decline since Carlisle's League One days in the last decade.

Offer people paltry reason to believe, and they won’t. Give them scant value for their money, and that bank of support will erode.

Assume the hardcore is at least still there, still on board with these hard times and it won't get much lower, and be proved coldly wrong.

It can quite clearly get worse. This week, then, we need to see the Blues’ plan to make it better.