Rugby legend Jason Robinson says Sale Sharks hopes of reaching the Aviva Premiership play-offs hinge on the next fortnight.
With just four matches of the regular season to go, the Sharks are on the cusp of the top four, lying in fifth position just four points behind Bath, who they beat in the West Country late last month.
Sale's run-in features huge home clashes with sixth-placed Harlequins, who also have top-four pretensions of their own, and third-placed Leicester with trips to Exeter and London Irish rounding off the season.
But Robinson - a cross-code colossus thanks to a sterling career which brought him unparalleled success with Wigan and Sale as well as with Great Britain, England and the British Lions - believes that if Steve Diamond's men navigate the challenge of Quins and Exeter over the next fortnight, a side which many pundits last autumn had tipped to be in the relegation battle can go on to challenge for a place in the Premiership final at Twickenham next month.
"If Sale can win these next two games then they will definitely be on for the top four," declared Robinson, who famously captained the Sharks to the Premiership title in 2006.
"Harlequins are a very good team with some fantastic players like Danny Care and Mike Brown who like to play with pace and that is where Sale will be tested. It's going to be tough for them as it will be going to Exeter, which is also a demanding place to play.
"But they are playing with confidence and if they can get two results over the next fortnight, there's no reason why they can't finish in the play-offs.
"The good thing for Sale is that no-one will want to play them. You want teams coming up to your patch knowing they are in for a rough ride and every team will now feel that about playing Sale. I must admit they have surprised me.
"We all know they have under-performed over previous years so it's nice to see them really challenging.
"One of the key things for them this year has been their watertight defence and that's down to the new defensive coach Mike Forshaw.
"He's obviously put a lot more steel in there and they are a much tighter unit. And the way they played in beating Northampton in the league and then dug in to win at Bath breeds confidence throughout the team.
"It tells them that it doesn't matter who we play we've got a good chance of beating them, so that will stand them in good stead for these last four vital league games.
"Confidence, I'm sure, is very high but they know it's now all about finishing strongly."
One of the corner-stones of Sale's resurgence in fortunes this season has been Robinson's former Sharks and England team-mate Mark Cueto, who was part of the Sale side that won the title eight years ago.
The 34-year-old winger tops the Sale try-scoring charts and has extended his standing as the Premiership's all-time top try-scorer by taking his overall career tally to 86.
And Robinson, who also worked with Cueto when he was Sale's head coach in the 2009/10 season, said he wasn't surprised to see his former sparring partner still going strong.
"I think Mark Cueto is older than me now! In all seriousness he's got a lot of experience and he's been a great servant to the club," Robinson added.
"He's played in World Cups, he's played on British Lions tours, and that's invaluable for the club.
"He went through a period where he was struggling to get over the try line but now he looks like he's scoring for fun. It doesn't matter how old you are, it's about performances and they will be looking forward to getting him back for the tough run-in.
"But while you talk about names it's not about just one or two players. The team have bought in to what Sale are trying to do and, as a result, they are all playing well and all playing for each other.
"The win at Bath epitomised that and when you have a team that plays for each other then I know you can do some great things."
Robinson's latest venture has seen him become get involved in Premiership Rugby's innovative Hitz programme, which seeks to use rugby to equip disadvantaged youngsters with the skills to get back into education or the work place.
"Hitz is a programme I've only recently got involved with but it fits in with my background," said Robinson. "They are going into inner city areas and helping young people who may not be sure where their future is going and potentially could be getting involved in anti-social behaviour or dropping out of school and not having a focus.
"I've been very lucky as the sport took me from a council estate in Leeds to playing for my country. And by working with these young people, who knows? Maybe we will see some more stars come through."
Jason was talking to Neil Leigh of The Manchester Evening News
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