It’s a pretty low bar, admittedly, but right now Carlisle United could really do with being more like Oldham Athletic.

Not off the field, clearly. And not particularly on it. But in one respect, absolutely.

You know the one – when a struggling side shows it can reach behind the sofa and come out with three totally unexpected points, almost at random.

Oldham’s 3-2 victory over Port Vale was in many ways an archetypal League Two scoreline: a struggler upending a high-flier, form sent sailing through an open window.

It was only Oldham’s second win in eight league games, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Keith Curle’s team leapt to third bottom because the side directly below them still cannot buy, borrow or steal a victory.

Now Carlisle United are back down there, 23rd out of 24, and the blunt reality is it’s going to take more than organised draws and plucky defeats to get them out of it.

Here is the cold truth: the Blues’ winless league run of 11 games is the longest not just in League Two, but the entire EFL.

Only Newcastle United of the Premier League have gone longer without a victory among the 92 in 2021/22. They are on a dozen games and counting.

After that: Carlisle, and then Barrow, who are seven games without.

Other waifs and strays, like bottom side Scunthorpe United, have enjoyed the taste of three points more recently than the Blues. The traits required to get over the line are more recent in their memory, even as they limp on.

So: pressure builds. It might seem a little early to be talking about must-win fixtures, but Carlisle are now in a place where a two-point gap cannot be allowed to grow any bigger.

They have to find a way to beat Harrogate Town, or Walsall (or, let’s fantasise, both) this week if their hopes of staying in touch, let alone climbing from their current spot, are to gain credibility.

That last word does attach itself, it must be said, to the early evidence of Keith Millen’s work. It is as clear as day that the new manager has accepted a very weak hand and is having a diligent go at making something from it.

United look as organised as you could imagine, as tactically ordered as one could expect from a side in such bad form. With 11 men on the pitch for the full stretch against Exeter City, a result there would have been realistic.

This was never going to be an immediate transformation. Carlisle do not have the players for that. Incremental improvements, as we’ve seen in performance if not league results, can offer a degree of hope.

They have 29 games to make good on Millen’s initial moves; 87 points to contest. But the next handful are the ones that truly count. If this season is not to resemble one of those dreams where the thing you’re chasing remains agonisingly out of reach, Carlisle have to do what they’ve not managed since Jon Mellish socked a winner past Salford on September 4 - and quickly.

Everyone knows what this team lacks and needs. Millen himself, whilst remaining respectful towards the current squad, is making it increasingly clear that he knows it too. Goalscoring potency does not reside in the current ranks, making this a job of managing flaws, covering faults and pursuing small gains until the January transfer window opens.

Any policy that dumps all hope on the market, though, would be dangerous for various reasons - not least United’s long-standing habit of getting worse, not better, after the winter window.

It would also assume Carlisle’s aim with transfers will be pinpoint, and that the calibre of player required to sort this side out will be ready to sprint up the M6.

Maybe those things will occur. Goodness knows, a lot will depend on United working that window to their advantage.

But it will be futile all the same if, come the first day of 2022, all that Carlisle have to sell is an odds-against survival job from a position several miles adrift.

Far better in all ways if they look, by then, the kind of team that can, every so often, root out a victory, that can be a nuisance to a side with higher pretensions, that can produce a turn up for the books when needed.

That can find some underdog bite to go with attempted strategy and structure. That can be as Oldham were on Saturday.

That can win a game of SkyBet League Two association football, put simply, and drink in the psychological benefits before it’s sadly too late.