Scott Quigley. Paddy Madden. Antoni Sarcevic. Good enough, so far, to have Stockport County 11th in the National League. Eleventh.

This was the frightening reality that leapt through the screen as Stockport were defeating Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup first round replay for the ages this week.

The Edgeley Park club have a strike force that would be the envy of most League Two teams. They recently raided their League One cup opponents for their captain.

Their ample budget is no secret. Their fanbase is impressive and buoyant.

And they are 11th. Right now, the well-heeled Hatters defer to Chesterfield, Boreham Wood, Grimsby Town, Bromley, Notts County, FC Halifax Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Solihull Moors, Wrexham and Woking in non-league’s top tier.

The team of Madden and Quigley are a point above Altrincham, and one win above Yeovil Town, Torquay United and Eastleigh.

It is often claimed that the Championship is football’s best example of ferrets fighting in a sack. It is now the fifth tier that better resembles that.

Who in their right minds would want to be relegated into that division and think it wouldn’t be merry hell to get back out of?

Clubs with unshifted downward trajectory, like Southend United, can soon vanish into obscurity among the hungry, well-drilled upstarts, the renewed big clubs and the spenders that stalk the land.

A salary cap, mooted for next season, might affect the picture to some degree. But still: Carlisle United go down to that level next spring, and there’s every reason to fear a long and harsh winter in our supporting lives.

To be avoided, with all they’ve got.