How quickly fortunes can flip in football.
Five matches without a win in the ultra-competitive Championship saw Caley Thistle being caught up and overtaken by rivals, who are also in the hunt of faltering front-runners Kilmarnock.
A recent failure to hold on to leads, or cash in on periods of dominance in matches, such as away to Partick Thistle and Ayr United, led to 0-0 and 2-2 draws.
A more clinical touch, or being switched on for key split seconds, would most certainly have Inverness already topping the second tier as December arrives.
Yet, an impressive 2-1 win away to Queen of the South just over a week ago halted a mini-slump by Billy Dodds’ side and, thanks to Arbroath winning 1-0 at Killie, ICT are now just one point off top spot.
It’s already going to be a busy spell and the Caley Jags could certainly have done without being taken to a Scottish Cup replay as a result of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Morton.
That match awaits next Tuesday (December 7), but there is plenty of drama to unfold before then.
Top guns battle it out in Inverness
Kilmarnock and Raith are the joint-leaders and Caley Thistle face them both this week at the Caledonian Stadium in two competitions.
On Tuesday, Rovers, who looks capable and determined under John McGlynn come north looking to send ICT spinning out of the SPFL Trust Trophy at the quarter-final stage.
These rivals are the joint holders of the trophy, better known as the Challenge Cup, after the tournament in 2019/20 was not completed due to Covid and the final was not contested.
The pandemic put paid to the pursuit of the silverware last season, but wins for ICT at Elgin City and Raith at home to East Fife in the last round saw them reach the quarters.
The route to the final was drawn before a ball was kicked and the winners of Tuesday’s tie know they will face the victors of the Hamilton v Killie clash, who play on the same night.
Yes, this cup, for teams outside the Premiership, will never be a match for the Scottish Cup or even the Premier Sports Cup, but clubs, including Caley Thistle in the past, have clinched it along with the Championship on the way to the Premiership.
Winning any game, any competition, is a healthy habit and Dodds and McGlynn know that only too well.
Caley Jags protect 21-year record
That amazing statistic of these two well-matched teams is the stunning record Caley Thistle have over Rovers.
They have not lost any of their last 25 matches against the Kirkcaldy side, with Rovers last winning in October 2000 when a Paul Sheerin goal for ICT was not enough in a 2-1 home defeat.
A 21-year record is there to be protected, but a semi-final spot tucked away unti next March would also be a massive lift going into Friday.
Just three defeats for Raith Rovers
Make no mistake, this will be as tough a game as Caley Thistle have faced so far this year.
Raith have lost only three matches in all competitions this season. One of those was a 1-0 loss in the league in Inverness when Roddy MacGregor smashed a stunner into the net late on.
Other than that, a 1-0 defeat to Queen of the South and a 3-0 Premier Sports Cup exit at Celtic Park are the only reversals for a team with the bit between their teeth.
However, Dodds recently stressed he’s not interested what the competition or fixture is, he just wants his team to win it.
There will be no desire to take a home quarter-final lightly, despite what lies ahead just three nights later.
Away day breather for Killie?
Tommy Wright’s Killie will be glad to escape Rugby Park when they arrive at Inverness in front of the BBC Scotland cameras this Friday.
The league favourites are top of the league on goal difference, just ahead of Raith, and one point ahead of Inverness.
Having dropped out of the Premiership with Hamilton last term, they were seen as the team to beat and, in many ways, they still are.
However, home league losses against Caley Thistle, Raith, Partick Thistle and Arbroath, who are all their closest chasers, has opened the door of doubt.
There’s little doubt, however, they need a victory in the Highlands this week to underline their title credentials.
Yet, what a prize is on offer for ICT, knowing a victory under the floodlights going into the weekend will make them the leaders.
On Saturday, Rovers go to Arbroath, who could go top themselves should results go their way and Partick slip up to Queen of the South.
A trip to Morton for ICT on December 11 is followed by Hamilton at home seven days later then a Boxing Day bout against Partick in the Highlands for Dodds’ players.
A return to winning form right now, like they had at the start of the season, really would make it a happy Christmas for Inverness supporters.