Stephen Baxter has warned Crusaders fans not to get carried away with their blistering start to the league campaign.
The Seaview faithful became used to watching their side fight for their lives at the wrong end of the top flight before they eventually slipped through the relegation trapdoor.
Baxter could have walked away from the club in the summer of 2005 but he guided the Hatchetmen to the Intermediate League title and the team has gone from strength to strength.
Shrewd summer spending has seen the Shore Road men spring out of the traps this season and, whisper it quietly around Baxter, but talk of the Gibson Cup returning to Seaview for the first time since 1997 can be heard among the optimistic followers of the side.
The Crues are only a point behind leaders Glentoran although they have played a game more than Alan McDonald’s side.
Up next is a quick return journey to Glenavon tomorrow where Baxter’s boys crashed to a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of their Co-operative Insurance Cup third round battle.
Two goals from old boy Aaron Black killed off the Lurgan Blues at Seaview in August and fans attending scraps at the Shore Road venue are expecting to see the Crues turn on the style.
But the north Belfast side has found the going tough at times in recent games and Baxter wants the supporters to keep their dreams in check.
“As a football club we should all feel very proud to be in the position we are in and to have the players that we have around us right now,” said Baxter.
“Three years ago we were on our knees so we have come a huge way in a short space of time and some of our supporters need to remember that.
“You could say that Crusaders could win the league but so could seven other teams right now.
“It’s not beyond the realms of possibility but we will have to play better than we have been doing recently to sustain a challenge. We would need to keep our best eleven fit the whole season to win it and it’s not going to happen because of injuries and suspensions.
“We have got such a small squad it is frightening. We live within our means and try and get that extra 10 per cent out of what we have and we do that.
“But if you have quality like (Mark) Dickson, (Aaron) Black, (Eamon) Doherty, (Colin) Coates, (David) Rainey and (Gareth) McKeown and you can keep those boys fit you have the nucleus of a good team.”
The Crues are unbeaten at Seaview this season but they have suffered league defeats on their travels at Linfield and Newry City.
Jamie Marks, who was dismissed on his Crues debut on Tuesday night, must serve an automatic one-match ban.
Glenavon will be without goalkeeper Robert Robinson who will be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks with torn ligaments in his right ankle.