Mayo footballers found themselves in such a position before the weekend.
Oh we of little faith, and I include myself among the number who felt Mayo didn’t really have much of a chance of beating All-Ireland champions Dublin in the rescheduled match in McHale Park on Saturday night.
Those among the 10,000 who turned out were rewarded on a night in which we saw faith and pride restored in Mayo football.
Maybe it was the new predominantly dark green strip. Maybe it was the magnificent evening as the sun sank slowly over McHale Park in the west and we felt good about the place we found ourselves in - particularly when the home side is up by 10 points and you have the All-Ireland champions on the rack.
But I’m more inclined to think maybe it was time for Mayo to be true to themselves and give a performance we felt they had hidden away somewhere and one they owed themselves and their loyal supporters who once more turned out in numbers.
Manager James Horan wasn’t totally surprised with the result or the performance and had been preaching all week that there was no need to panic. There is no crisis.
Maybe we hadn’t given the team sufficient credit against Cork the previous week in a game they only lost by a point.
On that occasion Mayo literally threw the ball and the game away.
On Saturday night the errors had been reduced. Mayo were out of the blocks early, in both halves, and it is fair to say each of the starting 15 appeared to go out with the same fire and determination in their play and in truth they had put Dublin to bed by half-time.
The 14-man hoodoo that had haunted Mayo in their last two games, which they lost when the opposition went a man down, was not to be seen as a confident Mayo kicked some wonderful points and put themselves right back into the frame for league qualification.
Regardless of how things pan out in Kerry next weekend, and the likelihood is Mayo will win as Kerry are already through, James Horan has shown that the team has heart and ability.
We always believed the football was there but experience has taught us one very cruel lesson - you just can’t rely on a Mayo team and you just didn’t know what kind of a performance they will turn in, as we have already seen time and time again in the national league.
Dublin may not have been at their best or their strongest, but it shouldn’t take away from the application, hunger and the work ethic shown by Mayo, who have finally stood up and been counted.
But one swallow never made a summer and it is important all feet remain on the ground and we do not get carried away on the euphoria of one big win, welcome and all as it is.
The other positive vibe from Saturday night was the amount of money, over €15,000, donated at the gate where entry was free due to the previous game being abandoned, and that will be divided between four local charities.
Maybe the reputation of the GAA as being a grab-all association will change.
And while James Horan will be keep his feet and those of his players firmly on the ground, what a wonderful sight it was to see all the kids on McHale Park getting the autographs from their heroes. That is how is should always be.
Now that is something we have not seen for a while and hopefully the players, too, will be rewarded at the end of season for the effort they are undoubtedly putting in.
In the meantime, it is off to Kerry for the final act of what has been a dramatic national football league and one Mayo may yet have final say in.
Look out for another twist in the Mayo tale!