Football supporters often wear the nadir of their club as a badge of honour.
Yes, their multi-million pound squad is now lifting Premier League titles and challenging for European honours, but they will be the first to point out that they were there on those cold Tuesday nights witnessing shambolic performances at Grimsby and Port Vale.
Sunderland supporters know this feeling more than most. The past 18 months has produced the worst team in the club’s entire history and at least one utterly embarrassing incident each week.
It has been bleak for longer than many of us care to remember, but there are finally green shoots of optimism.
Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters arrived on a sunkissed Wearside expecting a party and left rather meekly mumbling ‘championes’ under their breath.
They had seen their nouveau riche Premier League bound players dismantled and dominated by a hungry, enthusiastic young Sunderland side.
The performances of academy products such as Luke Molyneux, Ethan Robson and Joel Asoro gave supporters an injection of hope that there may be more sunny days like this on the horizon.
Despite the lowly position, the gloom is starting to lift around the Stadium of Light.
As perspective owner Stewart Donald watched on from the executive boxes, he would have seen a team and club ripe with opportunities.
He will know that if he can reconnect the fanbase to a club that has let them down so badly in recent years, he could write his name into folklore around these parts.
There is a long way to go to rebuild those bridges, but once the takeover is ratified by the EFL the work can begin.
Supporters don’t ask for much, we simply want a team to be proud of. We want one that is competitive, does not shirk any responsibility and leaves every ounce of blood and sweat on the pitch.
We understand that this is going to be a long progress and there will be setbacks along the way, but the right approach will help to stitch up those wounds that have been inflicted in the past decade.
Donald and his consortium have an incredible opportunity of restoring a great football club which is so intrinsically linked to its community back to its former glory.
A strong start in League One and supporters will be able to start dreaming of where it could take us.
So, picture the scene. It’s April 2024, the sun is bathing the Parisian streets in a warm, spring time glow.
The normally quiet cafes and bars are alive the hubbub of excited conversation and while these places tend to be reserved for the nuanced Gallic language, all the voices hail from the banks of the Wear.
The topic veers from whether Sunderland can hold on to a slender two-goal lead from the first leg over the powerhouse of Paris Saint-Germain to how various supporters managed to get a ticket.
Then there is a solitary voice begins to talk about an easily forgotten victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers a few years ago that sparked this upward trajectory.
Let’s start to dream again.