Saints need to use the international break to bring back the intensity if they are to stop this season descending into another underwhelming campaign.

The two-week hiatus has come at a good time for the club and manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Three consecutive Premier League defeats, culminating in a pretty awful showing against Chelsea where they struggled to look even vaguely competitive for large parts, has left the squad reeling.

It has also led to some fans questioning Hasenhuttl for the first time since he took over.

But if Saints can use this break constructively, clear their heads and return to what they did so well in the early months under Hasenhuttl, then they can quickly turn it around.

Just cast your mind back to when Hasenhuttl first walked through the doors at St Mary’s.

Saints were at a pretty low ebb, facing a relegation battle with Mark Hughes having just been sacked.

What they needed at that exact moment was a big character to walk in, reinvigorate the squad and drive them forward. Enter Hasenhuttl.

He seemed so focused, so determined, so intense, even shunning the excuse of needing time to look at the team to decide what was required.

Hasenhuttl was insistent that he both could and would implement change immediately in terms of style, in terms of tactics, in terms of personnel.

His words were utterly uncompromising. His vision clear. His actions decisive.

He drove forward exactly as he said he would, and it felt as if he almost single handily lifted the squad up and dragged them over the line to safety like a competitor in the World’s Strongest Man pulling a lorry down an airport runway.

But the truth is that it is hard to maintain that level of intensity, not just as an individual who has to get up every morning and try and live and breathe it, but also in the team who you are asking to do the same.

For all the complaints about formation and team selection and individual errors and collective performances, the most striking thing that has changed in Saints since pretty much they all but secured safety before the end of last season is that the intensity has gone.

It has gone from their play very evidently. The press is really the case in point.

It has changed from hunting in packs, setting traps and then pouncing as a unit with energy and vigour to force mistakes to more or less just one player sauntering over to face up a member of the opposition with limited expectation of success.

There is also a sense just a little of the spark has gone out of Hasenhuttl.

You could hardly blame him in some ways. To try and keep up that intensity, that almost forced character that is 100 per cent focused and determined every second of every day is surely too much for anyone. And when your squad has not had the kind of surgery to it you might have hoped then you must feel you are fighting a tough battle.

The departure of his former assistant, Danny Rohl, has also left a bit of a void.

With the feeling that energy has been sapped and that morale has quickly slumped, Saints must use these two weeks to step back and assess.

They need to lift themselves to get back to what had worked so well.

That means more energy, a fresh impetus, more vigour, from Hasenhuttl all the way through the playing squad.

It’s only a matter of weeks between the October and November international breaks, but it feels like a crucial stage in the season.

If Saints can turn this recent slump around and get themselves back to somewhere near their best then they are still plenty good enough to pick up results.

That will soon return the positivity, and also the feeling that this season could be a decent one. It’s not going to be stellar, that was never going to be the case, but still a sign of progress after recent years of struggle.

But if the next few weeks don’t go so well then the die is pretty much cast. Saints will be in for another relegation fight.

It feels like it is a defining few weeks in terms of the narrative of this season, but the script is still there to be written.