There can be no denying that Keith Curle got a reaction from his Carlisle United players on Tuesday night - but perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. It is not as if he, or they, were short of practice.

Bouncebackability, as Iain Dowie first called it in 2004, is often cited as a useful quality for a team. It captures a team's resilience, its refusal to fall into a rut of bad results.

Quite true. It is not, though, something a good side needs to call upon very often, because that says as much about your problems as your strengths.

In a decade with the England Test side, Graeme Hick was recalled 10 times. The bad news? He was dropped 10. For each occasion when the batsman's class was judged to be worth a fresh opportunity, there was another when his brittle confidence cost him runs and, duly, his place.

Similarly, for every "reaction" teased out of a football team, there has to have been a failure in the first place. Keep zigzagging between one and the other and you won't get very far in the long run.

United are away from home today, where their form has, on balance, been more reliable this season. It is at Brunton Park where the issues lie; where the latest hope is that Tuesday's fine performance against Gillingham in the FA Cup can herald more consistent results.

That hope has often been unsatisfied not just this season but throughout 2017. It can often be a bogus game compiling statistics from a calendar year, since football clubs work in seasons from August to May, and the dynamics can often change greatly halfway through.

Still, though, if a positive trend can be found by connecting years, you can bet someone will find it, so United's lesser efforts on home soil since January can also be relevant, especially when those at the top of the Blues are trying to get their heads around why crowds have dipped the longer the year has gone on.

It is hardly surprising, given the numbers, that Carlisle's record of home wins this year is down there among the most meagre in their history. Should they fail to beat either Accrington Stanley on Boxing Day, or Coventry four days later, finishing 2017 with just four league victories at Brunton Park will be the equal worst.

The year which currently holds that record is 2000, when the tail-end of the Martin Wilkinson reign dovetailed with the start of Ian Atkins' tenure to a background of late Knighton-era misery and some often desperate football.

The picture is little better with those years when the total has been five. Excluding war years, two of which saw just half a season, we have 1960, a tough year under Andy Beattie and then Ivor Powell; 1992, which mostly provided the gruel of the Aidan McCaffery days; and 2003, which showcased the final decline under Roddy Collins and the time before successor Paul Simpson had truly turned the ship around.

This year has not felt quite so miserable, not least because Carlisle arrested a new-year slump in time to get back into the play-offs, and have since produced enough away results, and cup form, to keep spirits at a certain level.

Nobody, though, would pretend that folk are skipping down the street to United's ground right now and the fact they have avoided victory there 20 times out of 24 in the league since January 1 simply has to be one of the biggest reasons.

On BBC Radio Cumbria last weekend, chief executive Nigel Clibbens said it was difficult to say how much this season's dip in crowds was down to concerns about the club, and how much was because of the team.

It would be interesting to see a Venn diagram of supporters' answers, for it is unlikely to be an either-or question for many. Nor should it be. For fundamental reasons, a team more often than not reflects its club. Players cannot be kept separate from board when that board hires a manager to sign those players.

Yes, there are many unconnected areas - the off-field "matchday experience" is scarcely the job of Keith Curle, while John Nixon has no part in whether Jamie Devitt gets a run of games - but they are part of the same whole.

That whole, the record says, has not been laying on nearly enough good afternoons at the place where most supporters go, hence the near constant challenge for United to find their reactive side.

That r-word, incidentally, was used by Clibbens last weekend as he conceded some ground on accusations that Carlisle's hierarchy had not been forthcoming enough in speaking to fans.

It applies universally, for being as proactive as possible on and off the field is surely the way to success. It might not always be easy at a League Two club with Carlisle's limitations, but, as Chris Lumsdon pointed out, some things are free.

Getting on the front foot with your message, for instance, when the alternative looks like a scramble. Anticipating criticism, questions and supporter sentiment on the big political questions at Brunton Park is something the regime has to do better in 2018.

Similarly, the January window will tell us how much proactive potential remains in the budget and Carlisle's approach to squad rebuilding. As in the way you do business and the way you manage life, all can benefit from an ability to get one's shots in as early as possible, to prevent more often than cure.

On the grass, against Port Vale, United looked as though they did not know how to be proactive. Three days later, though, they did, forcing the pace impressively against Gillingham and marching into the third round of the cup.

The latter is what they need to be known for in all ways, both at the end of this challenging year and throughout the next one. Bouncing back often sounds handy, but make too much of a virtue of it and you're Alan Partridge.