This week, of all weeks, Institute supporters should allow themselves a little optimism.
The club faced perhaps its biggest test of their league title credentials at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday as they went head-to-head with one of the pre-season favourites for the Championship.
And after a ruthless demolition ultimately ended Carrick which manager Michael Hughes’ reign, Paul Kee will surely allow ‘Stute fans the liberty of dreaming of promotion.
An attacking freedom and abundance of offensive options appear to have been written into the club’s DNA all of a sudden.
A total of 18 goals from four league games with seven different names on the scoresheet is certainly an envious statistic for those teams hoping to battle it out for the title.
So far everything is going to plan for Kee’s troops and, although confidence is soaring at the Drumahoe club after Saturday’s result, the ‘Stute boss is keen to keep his players’ feet firmly on the ground.
“We’re putting teams on the back-foot quite a lot and that’s in the DNA now as we continue to work at it,” said the ‘Stute boss.
“But it’s only three points,” he added.
“The manner in which we won was pleasing but we have to keep our feet on the ground. We’ve got a good offensive unit. The fact we have (Michael) McCrudden and (Stephen) Parkhouse out and still got the result was pleasing.
“It was a good all round team performance. That’s another five goals in the league which is excellent.
“It sends a message out to our opponents but we can’t get complacent. We have to stay focussed on the next match.
“You only have to look at Dundela who were flying at the top of the league and they were held 2-2 at Dergview this weekend so that’s the nature of the Championship.
“It was a good performance and I thought we went about our business well.”
‘Stute were rampant from the start but they were gifted an opening goal by a careless own goal from Dermot McVeigh.
And from there the home side never looked back, putting their opponents to the sword at every opportunity.
“The performance was excellent. The team has been fairly well formulated this past year.
“The game plan worked out well as well so I have no complaints - it was a really good team performance.”
Many would have expected a tight, physical encounter and while there was no shortage of robust tackles and skirmishes, it was far from evenly contested.
The home side forced Carrick into an error on 13 minutes from a high ball into the penalty area.
A misunderstanding between McVeigh and Gareth Deans resulted in the defender’s cushioned header bouncing into the net with the goalkeeper in no man’s land.
Carrick’s lively striker, Abby Sanusi could have restored parity six when he ghosted into the ‘Stute danger area unmarked to meet a cross but he put his header wide.
And Institute made them pay for that miss three minutes later after a mis-placed header from Donaghy which let Tom Carlin advance through on goal. The winger cut inside on his left foot and fired into the net at the near post to double his side’s lead.
Darren McFadden added a third just before the half hour mark when he latched onto Darren McCauley’s cross and steered it past the goalkeeper from eight yards.
‘Stute began where they left off after the interval and McCauley - who was tormenting right-back, Aaron Smyth throughout - netted a sublime strike on 63 minutes.
After a series of step-overs McCauley gained a yard on his marker and blasted into the net from a tight angle.
The game was over as a contest at this stage and when Ryan McCann was sent to the stands for a second bookable offence on 66 minutes it capped a day to forget for Carrick.
Substitute Ryan Burns added a little respectability to the scoreline when he darted past Andy Devlin all too easily and found the net from an acute angle.
Aaron Smyth brought McCauley crashing down inside the penalty area with six minutes to go and the in-form winger stepped up to send the resultant spot-kick past the goalkeeper to end the rout.