It might not have been pretty at times, but Saints had plenty of reasons to be positive after Saturday’s success against Gloucester.
The first reason to smile came from the result, a comprehensive 26-7 win against a disjointed Cherry and Whites outfit.
It ensured Saints took a giant step towards a fourth appearance in an LV= Cup semi-final in five seasons as they sit pretty at the top of pool four.
In the process, the Franklin’s Gardens try drought came to an end as Luther Burrell’s first-half score halted 320 minutes of discontent.
And, perhaps most the most significant point, Northampton’s fringe players had shown their worth.
The likes of Burrell and Alex Waller, in particular, stepped up to the plate to show Saints have got plenty in reserve.
Those two players would normally occupy a spot on the bench on a Premiership or Heineken Cup matchday, but they got their starting chance on Saturday, and took it.
Burrell, with his fifth try in just 13 games for Saints since joining from Sale, packed a punch in midfield.
While Waller made up for using his fists in Glasgow a week earlier with a fine showing that earned him a try and the bottle of man of the match red wine.
More good news came in the form of Christian Day and James Craig’s returns from injury, as the duo, who had ensured lengthy spells on the sidelines, emerged unscathed.
And there was the second-half introduction of academy graduate Tom Collins, who looks a decent prospect on the wing.
All in all, you could understand why coach Alan Dickens was so upbeat in the post-match interview, as he laughed and joked with his inquisitors.
One note of caution must come in the form of Gloucester’s team selection, as it was far from their strongest line-up.
They will bring much heavier artillery when they return to the Gardens for a Premiership clash in two weeks’ time.
But Saturday’s win was a warning shot from Saints as they go all out for LV= Cup glory this season.
And the fact some of the undercard stepped up to shine should also stand them in good stead for the fight that lies ahead in the Aviva Premiership.
How they fared...
A sparky performance from the full-back, who was the best player on the pitch during the first half. Made up for a poor performance at Glasgow a week earlier... 8
Steady if unspectacular showing from the Kiwi, who is still finding his feet after a lengthy injury... 6
Much better from the Samoan, who admitted his form had been ‘at a standstill’ going into the game. Innovative... 7
This man can certainly turn on the power and he knows his way to the tryline. He ended Saints’ Franklin’s Gardens try drought with a welcome score... 7
Very solid performance on the wing from the adaptable back, who combines experience with youthful enthusiasm... 7
Played so well at Glasgow seven days earlier, but didn’t get close to those heights in a below-par performance. The only positive was his pass for Burrell’s try... 6
Kept the tempo up well at nine and was always trying to get Saints on the front foot, even if some of their handling let them down at times... 6
ALEX WALLER - CHRON MAN OF THE MATCH
Made up for his error at Glasgow a week earlier with an extremely sound showing that earned him the man of the match accolade... 8
A very energetic and enthusiastic display from the youngster, who made some good breaks to keep Saints going forward... 7
Did well in Saints’ impressive forward effort and certainly had the measure of the Gloucester pack... 7
Steady enough from the Kiwi second row. He is effective in the lineout, but found the slippery conditions difficult occasionally... 6
Will be very happy with his first game back and, importantly, came through it unscathed to bring a smile to the faces of the Saints faithful... 7
Made some good hits to keep the pressure on Gloucester and is always an important presence, no matter which position he plays in... 7
Showed real appetite to keep Saints moving forward and the captain was a difficult man for Gloucester to stop at times... 7
Not his best display in a Saints shirt as he looked a little hesitant at times, but hasn’t played much of late, which must be taken into account... 6
Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)
LEE DICKSON (for Roberts, 55)
Helped inject some extra pace into Saints’ attacking game after coming on 15 minutes into the second half... 6
STEPHEN MYLER (for Lamb, 55)
Unsurprisingly made all his kicks and kept things ticking over as Saints kept the pressure on until the final whistle sounded... 6