Aston Villa will be desperate to show that there will be no repetition of last season's drift down the table in the latter stages of the campaign when they travel to Wigan Athletic on Tuesday.
Just over 12 months ago, Martin O'Neill was castigated for fielding a weakened side in Russia as Villa slumped out of the UEFA Cup to CSKA Moscow.
Although O'Neill denied it at the time, many fans thought the team's European campaign had been sacrificed so that Villa could concentrate on finishing in the top four, but unfortunately their campaign unravelled in the final three months.
They failed to win a game in March or April, a sequence of eight matches and, despite beating Hull City and Newcastle United in May, they eventually finished sixth, ten points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal.
This term, there have been no European distractions since the early Europa League exit to Rapid Vienna, but Villa have enjoyed good runs in the domestic cups, losing last month's Carling Cup Final to Manchester United and reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
However, once again their league form appears to have suffered with Saturday's grim goalless draw with Stoke City extending a run that has seen them win just two of their last nine matches.
Villa start the DW Stadium clash as the online betting favourites to win though, as the Latics have failed to score in any of their last four Premier League games against O'Neill's team.
However, the former Celtic and Leicester City manager has not won a Premier League game in the month of March since he was appointed Villa boss in August 2006.
A low-scoring encounter could be on the cards though as Villa have kept five cleans sheets in their last seven league games but failed to score in six of their last nine matches while Wigan have scored just one goal, against Liverpool, in their last five Premier League outings.
Nigel Reo-Coker (ankle) is likely to be Villa's only absentee, while Wigan boss Roberto Martinez will be without Mario Melchiot (knee) and James McCarthy (ankle), although he is expected to make several changes following his team's pitiful display in Saturday's 4-0 capitulation at Bolton Wanderers.