We have had the settling in period, and now we are at the point where more substantive progress is required.

Mauricio Pellegrino has had the chance to get his feet under the table at St Mary’s, to get to know his team and start to implement his philosophy and ideas.

In modern day football patience is thin on the ground, and that always seems a little harsh, but after struggling to really hit the ground running in terms of results, he needs at least some more performances to show the way Saints are heading.

We have seen it in patches, most recently in the second halves against Manchester United and Stoke. That has been progress of a sort.

But when you have won just two of your first eight games in all competitions – and against, United aside, fairly middling opposition - you are going to be all too aware of the need to get some momentum going.

Saints are into another international break now left to ponder on many of the same dilemmas that have been troubling them for some time.

Goals, or a lack of them, remains top of the agenda.

You could take the viewpoint that Saints don’t have the players they need, that the balance of the squad isn’t correct. But then Pellegrino himself hasn’t really suggested that.

Therefore something really needs to change.

There isn’t any need to panic in terms of the early league table etc, and therefore Pellegrino deserves continued patience when it comes to results.

But he really needs to show he is stamping his authority on things, and that his principles are bearing fruit.

Even in this day and age people shouldn’t ask for everything all at once, but you want clear signs that things are heading in the right direction.

Right now they are all too fleeting.

It will be interesting to see how Pellegrino reacts.

So far he has been cautious, keen not to change too many things and rock the boat.

But with that failing to really deliver what he and the club wants, a fortnight to chew things over is a long time for ideas to percolate.

Despite his reluctance, maybe there will be a formation change, a switch in tactical emphasis, perhaps a way to get two up top by playing three centre halves. It doesn’t really feel like just sticking with more of the same is a particularly viable option.

Panicking would be a bad move, but there comes a time when some sort of action is required.

Saints’ game at Stoke was another example of a match they could have won which they didn’t.

There were plenty of chances for Saints again, but only one was taken, and that a spectacular goal from a centre half. In the end it cost them as Stoke nicked the three points.

It was certainly a more open affair than many would have predicted before kick-off, but it was two teams with plenty of competence and spirit, but both clearly a little short in the final third.

Fraser Forster made first half saves from the outstanding Xherdan Shaqiri, whose ability to find space between the lines Saints struggled to deal with, as well as Maxim Choupo-Moting.

At the other end Jack Butland smothered when Shane Long might have scored while Nathan Redmond put wide after being played in by Dusan Tadic.

Stoke took the lead on 40 minutes with a disappointingly soft goal.

Shaqiri delivered an inswinging right wing corner, Mame Diouf had lost Mario Lemina with a simple run and headed home unmarked in the centre of the goal six yards out.

Virgil van Dijk, restored to the starting line-up for the first time since January, showed his reading of the game by being on hand for a few superb last ditch challenges, but his match rustiness was apparent at times.

None more so than when he gave away a penalty just minutes later, clearly dragging back Saido Berahino.

The Stoke striker stepped up to take the spot kick himself and put it at a nice height for Forster, who made an excellent save diving to his left to really keep his team in it.

Stoke produced some questionable second half tactics, opting to lose pretty much all attacking threat and defend their one goal lead.

They sat so deep, got men behind the ball, gave Saints almost total possession and simply seemed to believe that Saints would fail to break them down.

Their confidence didn’t waver as Saints spurned chances. Both Long and van Dijk missed the target with clear headers, but they eventually made the breakthrough on 75 minutes.

The goal, only the fifth of the season for Saints, saw a scrappy build-up but a remarkable finish as Maya Yoshida produced a dramatic acrobatic volley in the area that slammed in off the underside of the bar.

With the momentum having been so firmly behind Saints throughout the second period, you felt the game was theirs to win, yet it was Stoke who bagged what proved to be the winner five minutes from time, Peter Crouch finishing from close range, again taking advantage of poor collective defending.

Saints had a late rally and might have found another goal were it not for Manolo Gabbiadini failing to make contact with Ryan Bertrand’s cross and Kurt Zouma hacking clear after Charlie Austin had bundled the ball past Butland.

With four more very winnable matches coming up after this international break and before the next, you sense this is a crunch period in the season for Saints to set out their ambitions. Things certainly get a lot tougher thereafter.

Pellegrino’s mind may be whirring a lot over the next couple of weeks.