A game-by-game look at Sunderland, Peterborough United and Hull City's run-in - and where slip-ups may occur
We’ll all be doing it over the course of the final few weeks of the season.
Looking at the upcoming games and checking, hoping, for when an opportunity might present itself.
The fixture lists will be out and forensically examined - which games must Sunderland win? Where could Peterborough and Hull slip-up? And is the top two still a possibility?
There’s no doubting that the Black Cats’ automatic promotion chances have been dented significantly by back-to-back defeats, but for as long as it remains a mathematical possibility then the playing squad will be targeting a place in the top two.
So which weekends could prove pivotal if Sunderland are to leapfrog Peterborough or Hull, and in which games could that duo realistically slip up?
We take a look at every fixture window remaining this season to see which ones could be key:
Sunderland: Blackpool (A)
Hull City: Fleetwood Town (H)
Peterborough United: Northampton Town (H)
This could be a key weekend from Sunderland’s perspective, given that the two sides currently in the automatic promotion have what look to be favourable fixtures.
Of course, as the old cliche goes, there is no easy game in League One - but there’s no hiding from the fact that Lee Johnson’s side will be facing the toughest assignment of the trio.
Blackpool are unbeaten in 15 and have promotion ambitions of their own, but it’s a game Sunderland simply have to win.
Hull City, meanwhile, face a Fleetwood Town side who have little to play for in the final weeks of the campaign.
Peterborough will play local rivals Northampton Town on Friday evening, with the Cobblers having won just one of their last four.
Sunderland: Hull City (A)
Hull City: Sunderland (H)
Peterborough United: Gillingham (H)
Plenty of focus will be placed on this midweek fixture window given Sunderland will play Hull.
Defeat for the Black Cats could cast them further adrift, while a win may just present a little glimmer of hope in the final weeks of the campaign.
As practically all Sunderland’s remaining fixtures are, the trip to Humberside is a must-win game.
This one undoubtedly carries extra significance though, and the Black Cats will likely be buoyed given they have enjoyed a fairly strong record against teams at the top of the table during the season.
But while all eyes will be on the KCOM Stadium, it’s worth noting that Peterborough also face a tricky fixture.
Sunderland know only too well what a threat Gillingham can be, and Steve Evans’ side may be eyeing a late surge into the play-offs.
Sunderland: Accrington Stanley (H)
Hull City: Lincoln City (A)
Peterborough United: Charlton Athletic (A)
A weekend that could present a real opportunity for Sunderland.
The visit of Accrington Stanley presents an opportunity for Johnson’s side to register an important three points - with the North West outfit having struggled for consistent form as of late.
The Black Cats’ promotion rivals, meanwhile, face two testing fixtures.
While Lincoln may have faded away from automatic promotion contention in recent weeks, they remain a good side and have a play-off place to compete for.
Hull, therefore, will be in for a testing afternoon at Sincil Bank.
The same can be said for Peterborough who will head to the Valley to face a resurgent Charlton side who are eyeing a late surge into the top six.
This could be an opportunity for Sunderland to close the gap on the automatic promotion places, but they must ensure they keep up the pace up to this point so they can be well-placed to capitalise if an opportunity presents itself.
Sunderland: Blackpool (H)
Hull City: No fixture
Peterborough United: Doncaster Rovers (H)
Hull have played one game more than both Sunderland and Peterborough - and that duo will catch-up during this midweek window.
And neither have particularly straight-forward fixtures, with the Wearsiders again having to play in-form Blackpool in what could be a pivotal fixture for both teams.
Doncaster may be struggling for form at the moment, but they are capable of securing results against some of the league’s top teams.
But from Peterborough’s perspective, they may see this as a big opportunity to close the gap on Hull - with the title still not out of the equation.
Sunderland: Plymouth Argyle (A)
Hull City: Wigan Athletic (H)
Peterborough United: Lincoln City (H)
Sunderland’s final away game of the season takes them to Plymouth Argyle on a weekend which could be a defining one in the context of the promotion race.
In Wigan and Lincoln City, Hull and Peterborough face games against teams who could well spring a surprise - in turn lending the Black Cats a helping hand.
But Sunderland themselves face a tricky test at Home Park against a side who have already beaten them once this season.
One of the top two may have already sewn up promotion by this point, but it could be an intriguing day in terms of that second spot.
Sunderland: Northampton Town (H)
Hull City: Charlton Athletic (A)
Peterborough United: Doncaster Rovers (A)
A week ago it looked to be a foregone conclusion that the promotion race would go down to the final day.
Now, that looks much less certain - but should automatic promotion still be in Sunderland’s grasp come May 9, then they may well have the more favourable fixture.
Hull’s trip to Charlton looks a daunting one, while there are far easier fixtures than Doncaster away for Peterborough.
But in Northampton, Sunderland could themselves face a side desperate for points to stay up.
The reality is, however, that the promotion race could well already be over May 9 - Sunderland simply need to ensure they win all their games up to that point and keep the pace.