There are various ways to judge a regime - we've certainly heard a few regarding Carlisle United this week - and, as this season approaches its midpoint, we are closing in on another.

In terms of managing supporter opinion, the Blues at board level seldom appear on the front foot; that much has been clear since last Saturday, when Chris Lumsdon's passionate call for United's bosses to "communicate" more proactively was followed, three days later, by Nigel Clibbens' summary of affairs on the club's website.

Whether that first of several detailed official articles was a response to Lumsdon's strongly-voiced views, or entirely coincidental in its timing, only those at the top of the Blues will know. In any case, only when the hierarchy start getting more of their shots in first can it be said that the flaw Lumsdon identified has been dealt with.

Yet there are, in the meantime, other things they can do to give the impression of facing the future confidently, instead of being buffeted by events.

In a couple of weeks or so we will be into January, and 31 days later it would be extremely helpful if the Blues had found ways to be a better bet on the pitch as they aim towards May.

A league run of one defeat in nine reflects a decent rebuilding effort after the poor days of August and September. But Keith Curle will know that, overall, the second half of 2017/18 must be better than the first.

The same returns, or worse, and this season will not rise from the mediocrity that 14th position reflects. Significantly improve, though, and there is clear potential.

So, can they do it? A campaign can rise and dip because of a host of variables, but sides that succeed do tend to find a reasonable wind on the back nine.

For one reason or another, that has been something Carlisle have struggled to locate consistently under this ownership.

In nine completed seasons since Fred Story relinquished control, five have seen them win fewer points in the second, 23-game half than in the first. Just three have brought marginal improvement, and one has seen first and second halves equal.

Not, perhaps, an overwhelming pattern, but neither is it evidence that United routinely emerge from the January window with an extra skip in their step.

Last season saw comfortably the steepest drop in terms of productivity - 46 points in the first half, 25 the second, an automatic promotion spot replaced by a scramble for the play-offs.

As we know, United were unsettled by December injuries to Mike Jones and Danny Grainger, and then the January sale of Charlie Wyke. While their form had already drifted a degree by the time the latter left, there is a strong case for saying they would have lasted the pace better had Bradford not triggered Wyke's £250,000 release clause.

Equally, if your auntie was slightly different anatomically, she'd be your uncle. There was always a risk that clause would come into play - why would it exist otherwise? - and the figures say the Blues did not cope well enough once it did.

"Events, dear boy, events" - former prime minister Harold MacMillan's greatest fear also stalks football clubs. The previous league season, 2015/16, was unsettled by the Storm Desmond floods and an emotionally draining cup run, but also, it should be said, the fact the squad wasn't equipped to remain in the thick of the play-off race.

So while it is not purely about the January window, there is still a reason why Curle has, in the past, conceded that United must be more "proactive" in the first month of the year.

Whether they can afford to be so is one thing (largely dependent on extending their FA Cup run, plus any further outward trading, it seems) but the likelihood is they will not be raided for an asset in the same way as January 2017.

This time they have been challenged to cope with injuries to Nicky Adams and Jason Kennedy, two of their most influential figures, but this is different to losing your top scorer on the final day of the window.

In this case, those steering the ship have at least had more time to get their priorities in order.

Other seasons have made clear what can be lost when it gets worse after the halfway mark. In 2013/14, United dropped from lower mid-table to relegation as a result of their half-season points deteriorating by nine.

In 2011/12, which saw a fractional dip, they narrowly failed to sustain a play-off push, while in 2010/11 - a season partly affected by winter postponements and a congested new year calendar - reasonable hopes of a challenge swiftly faded.

The times they have improved in the second half, it has enabled them to scramble to survival after bleak spells (2014/15, 2012/13) or head off a slightly less pressing risk (2009/10). Staying the same, as they did in 2008/9, left them in the struggle to the final day.

The fact the gap between Curle's team and the play-offs is four points makes the stakes obvious at this stage. Get better from here, and the chase is on. There could be no greater incentive for a regime that needs to win people over on all possible fronts.

There are unquestionably deeper concerns which are keeping some away from Brunton Park right now. The issues identified by Lumsdon, on the back of some despondent correspondence to BBC Radio Cumbria , concern the club's broader direction and connection with the public.

It is understandable, after nearly 10 years of this ownership and a current bottom-half position in the fourth tier, why people would ask for more. Understandable, after the "billionaire" debacle and the successive failures of Project Blue Yonder, why they may need a little more persuading than before.

Understandable, too, if the confidential stance of backers Edinburgh Woollen Mill - "fair enough," Clibbens said this week - might not yet be enough to provoke an influx back to Brunton Park.

A point made in this space four years ago was that people seldom board a train without being told where it is going. In football terms that means it is better to sell a vision than project a club content to cope.

Budgeting for six-figure losses in order to fund promotion challenges would be Carlisle's argument against the latter perception. Raising their football spending despite a steep fall in cup income the same.

Those in charge also clearly feel the transition from reliance on Andrew Jenkins to EWM is the "progress" to which Clibbens referred on Tuesday, whilst advising against impatience.

Progress to most supporters, though, concerns what they can see - in other words, from 3pm on a Saturday. It remains the best health-check available for the short-term so, however long the list of new year resolutions at Brunton Park, finding ways to be better on the pitch for 2018 should still be near the top.