Games against Newcastle, West Brom, Brighton and Burnley might not sound particularly glamourous or exciting, but for Saints they represent a season defining period.

It has been a stop-start opening couple of months to the campaign thanks to two international breaks, but the four fixtures that come before November’s fortnight off are crucial for Mauricio Pellegrino and his side.

If Saints have ambitions to achieve anything more than a season bumbling around in midtable, then they have to get points on the board, and probably around ten of them.

So far it has felt a fairly middling beginning to the campaign.

You wouldn’t say that Saints have done poorly, but you also would be hard pushed to make a case that they have done particularly well.

The early League Cup exit has certainly added a feeling of tedium to the season already, with much excitement sucked out, which is never a good thing.

Saints have struggled for a real feeling of momentum, or a sense of collective purpose as they try and fight the odds for a lofty aim.

And with no European football this season, it leaves just the Premier League campaign and, possibly, the FA Cup to provide the excitement that really is needed.

Of course a continued lack of goals has not helped the situation, but Saints have the chance to turn things around here and now.

Other than Man United, they have yet to really play a team of any great note this season, and have won just two out of seven top flight fixtures.

Once this run of four games is complete, and the November international break has come and gone, then the season really picks up some much needed steam as the fixtures start to flow quickly.

But Saints will be all too aware that on the horizon are multiple matches against teams established in the top six, who are not dropping a whole heap of points at the moment.

Getting the points on the board that will be required to maintain some kind of sustained push higher up the table at that time will be incredibly difficult.

Some argue that Saints may have already dropped too many points against non-top six rivals to do that.

However, the nature of the division means that outside of the top six there is likely to be a lack of consistency, and so all is not lost.

But it simply has to happen in these next four fixtures, or Saints will fall a long way behind facing a run of matches where consistently getting wins is very unlikely.

The club and the team could do with something to chase. It feels like things are drifting at Saints at the moment.

It is hard when you have achieved a lot over a number of seasons, perhaps over the odds in some ways, to keep a feeling of momentum. Eventually you do hit the glass ceiling and the only way from there is standing still, which is amazing but feels comparatively uninspiring, or downwards, which seems even worse.

Maybe Saints are just naturally levelling out, and getting through this period feels a little painful now but is required.

But with seventh place looking surprisingly wide open after Everton’s poor start to the season, there is no reason Saints should not be targeting it.

If Everton don’t suddenly get it together, then seventh, and potentially European football, will go to a club like Watford, Newcastle, West Brom.

And if they are going to challenge for it then why not Saints?

Indeed, given the fact they have finished sixth, seventh and eight over the last three years, Saints should, by rights, be strong favourites to do it.

Should they fail to put themselves in a position to seriously challenge for it when clubs like those listed above are then the season really will fall very flat indeed and there will be serious questions to answer.

There is still the chance to make it happen though.

For all the talk of the start to the season and the lack of goals, Saints do not need their whole year to be defined by it. They still have the opportunity to do something about it.

Of the next batch of fixtures, three are at home.

We know the goalscoring problems have been worse at St Mary’s, so what better time to put it right?

Saints have a great home record against Newcastle, and a good win on Sunday would set the tone.

You know West Brom and Burnley will visit St Mary’s and do exactly what Saints don’t like – namely defend deep and in numbers – but there is the challenge for Saints to overcome.

The only away game, at Brighton, is a derby match, but it’s hardly one that Saints should be fearing.

The moment really is there to be seized.

Whether Saints can do it is up to the manager and the players.

With so many of his squad disappearing away on international duty, Pellegrino will have spent a lot of time mulling over his options in the last two weeks.

Now is also the moment for him too, to be creative, to be bold, to try something different.

The same old, same old, has not yielded dividends, and while it is not time to panic, trying to change things slowly, though on the face of it a sensible plan, has really resulted in little change at all.

Do not, therefore, be surprised to see a change in formation this weekend. It could happen.

Pellegrino knows he needs to try and help his players overcome the mental block they seem to be running into at the moment, and that is one of the tools at his disposal.

As we saw with Ronald Koeman, it doesn’t need to be a permanent change. Just enough to try and find some momentum and confidence.

While there shouldn’t be desperation, there needs to be a recognition that the next four games are going to shape the season.

Do well and this could yet be a cracking year. If it goes averagely or worse then injecting any sense of enthusiasm or excitement into the campaign looks a forlorn hope, and that is bad news for Saints as a club.