Craig Morgan admits Wigan Athletic have found life in the Championship ‘a million times’ harder than last season in League One.
Barring a mathematical miracle, Latics will confirm their immediate return to the third tier this weekend, after a largely miserable campaign.
To have any chance of avoiding the drop, Latics need to win each of their last two matches – Saturday’s trip to Reading and next weekend’s visit of fellow play-off chasers Leeds.
In addition, fourth-bottom Birmingham City must fail to take a single point against either Huddersfield (h) this weekend or Bristol City (a) on Sunday week.
Even if those two parts to the equation are met, third-bottom Blackburn also have to fail to beat Aston Villa (h) or Brentford (a) in their last two fixtures.
It would be a Great Escape far in excess of anything achieved during the Premier League years.
And Morgan is the first to admit this season has been tough going, right from the off.
“That’s football isn’t it,” he told the Wigan Post.
“Middlesbrough are going through the same thing – they’ve gone up last year, and it looks as if they’re going to go straight back down.
“In football – and it is an old saying – you get the luck when you’re up there, but when you’re down there, you don’t get any.
“Ultimately, we are where we are because we haven’t been good enough.
“I’m certainly not going to be looking for any excuses.”
The gloomy landscape seems a million miles away from the euphoric scenes this time last year, when Morgan was picking up the League One title as Wigan’s triumphant skipper.
“Yeah, of course it does,” the Welshman acknowledged.
“But League One is a million miles away from the Championship – and the Premier League is a million miles away from the Championship.
“It’s not easy going up a league, no matter what level you’re doing it at.
“This year, we’ve struggled at times, we’ve done well at times, probably deserved a little bit more at times.
“But the table – after 46 games – doesn’t lie, does it?
“I don’t think there’s ever been a question of lack of commitment throughout the team.
“Every week the lads have put in a shift, and tried and tried and tried.
“Sometimes when you’re playing against teams like Brighton, who are spending millions and millions of pounds, and paying wages of tens and tens of thousands of pounds, it is very difficult at times.”
Not that Morgan, who has won an incredible five promotions during his distinguished career, is giving up all hope just yet.
“If it’s League One next season then we have to deal with that,” he added.
“As we found out last year, we know it’s not an easy league, and it did take us a while to get going.
“If it does happen, we’ll know exactly what to expect – that no-one has a dive right to win football matches.
“It’s a tough league, and I think next season will be the toughest it’s been for a while.
“Let’s see where we are first, though...because it’s not over yet.”