"Say what you see" was the old command of 'Catchphrase' host Roy Walker. It's also a popular theory of journalists assessing the form of teams and players. They weigh up the evidence in front of them before making what should be a reasoned judgement.
But with Donegal, they keep that much hidden from view it's impossible to know exactly where they are at times.
Their hopes against Derry discounted by the majority of writers and pundits, there is no doubt some of that rhetoric seeped into the Donegal players. Eamonn McGee addressed it after the win in Celtic Park, saying: "A lot was said about us in the run up to it, saying all was not well in the camp and what not."
That much is true. First came the Division Two league final defeat to Monaghan.
Then came the departure of 2012 All-Star Mark McHugh. Surely it was only logical that Donegal were in crisis?
"We knew we were right," counters McGee. "And we knew we trusted Jim (McGuinness) to have the preparation right and we were a bit tired in the league final. Although we didn't get going 100 per cent, we'd have been happy enough as long as we got over Derry. That is the main thing."
McGee then articulated the difference of perception between those looking in with prying eyes, and those that are in the tent itself.
"At the end of the day, you can only go by what you see from the outside. You have a different perspective. We know what's going on in the inside.
"We were confident coming up to the Derry game and we backed our players."
Among those players was Karl Lacey, the four-time All-Star who appears to have put an injury-ravaged 2013 behind him. Still only 28, Lacey has been living in Limerick all year and his commitment is a thing of wonder.
"Let's be honest," said McGee. "Karl wasn't himself last year and he was a massive loss for us. To have him in good shape is a massive advantage for Donegal."
It would seem with that massive third quarter effort that Donegal are back to their 2012 form. The pieces are slotting back, but you won't hear the players saying that.
McGee adds: "We'll not get too carried away. At the end of the day, we're in the same position.
"We beat a Division One team (Tyrone) last year and then we beat another Division One (Down) team and then we ended up capsizing (with defeats to Monaghan in the Ulster final and Mayo in an All-Ireland quarter-final).
"It's satisfying to get the win and take a bit of pressure off us."