Tony Pulis has told his players the season starts now and challenged them to win two of their final five games to ensure Stoke will have a sixth consecutive season of Premier League football.
The Potters looked well placed to achieve their target of a top-10 finish when they went on a 10-game unbeaten run through November and December, but Pulis has always been careful to stress survival is the priority, and it has become increasingly clear why.
Stoke have picked up only five points since the turn of the year and Sunday's 2-0 defeat by Manchester United extended their miserable run to one point from seven games.
That left Pulis' side in 16th, three points clear of 18th-placed Wigan but having played two games more.
With games against Queens Park Rangers, Norwich and Sunderland coming up, Stoke's fate remains well within their own hands, and Pulis is determined to look forward with optimism.
He said: "I've just spoken to the players. It's a five-game season. There's eight, maybe nine teams that are in the scrap and we've just got to make sure, no matter what's happened before, the season really starts for us now. I still say 40 points will do it.
"We just haven't had the breaks, and that's what happens in runs like this. The most important thing is that you all stay nice and positive - and it's difficult to do that - and focus.
"What's gone has gone, the important thing is looking to the next game and then the next game."