Steve Davis believes incremental changes behind the scenes have added up to fire Crewe into promotion contention.
Davis' Alex host Southend in the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final on Saturday hoping to extend the 16-match unbeaten run which saw them emerge decisively from the chasing pack to claim seventh place.
Such a sequence seemed unlikely when the 46-year-old succeeded club legend Dario Gradi last November, with Football League survival appearing a likely priority come spring.
"We were 18th when I took over," Davis said. "A lot of things have changed - too many to mention really, on and off the pitch. But they've all made a little bit of a difference.
"We've been able to give the players confidence and freedom to play. They're playing almost up to their potential, but there's more to come and we've become a better team."
One player whose potential still appears to have some way to run is England Under-18 international Nick Powell.
The attacking midfielder's vital injury-time equaliser at Torquay in the Railwaymen's penultimate game of the League Two programme was his 14th of a dazzling breakthrough campaign.
Easy on the eye football is nothing new for a club underpinned by a youth system responsible for England internationals David Platt and Danny Murphy among others.
But former Burnley defender Davis, in his first league management role, takes as much pride in his newly robust backline stationed in front of veteran goalkeeper Steve Phillips.
"We've become a better team in terms of how we play together," he said. "I think we're harder to beat in terms of our defending and our pressuring and we're still creating chances.
"That's what's been noticeably improved, but there's been a lot of change in and around the training ground and other things that will have gone unnoticed."
Southend were the last team to inflict defeat on Crewe in February before they embarked on their impressive unbeaten run, Bilel Mohsni bagging the only goal of the game at Roots Hall.
It completed a league double for the Essex outfit following their 3-1 victory at Gresty Road earlier in the season, Mohsni again with a brace.
But Shrimpers boss Paul Sturrock is expecting a different test from the Alex this time around.
"They're undefeated in 16 games, I think that answers everything," he told Blues Player on the club's official website.
"They're a very difficult opposition to play, a youthful team who are exciting going forward and have shown a resilience defensively as well now.
"It will be a very, very difficult game."
Southend go into the play-offs having finished fourth, with a resurgent bid for a top-three spot narrowly falling short on the final day of the regular season.
But Sturrock insists that does not mean his side will go into the play-offs low on confidence.
"People will think we're on a downer but we're not," he added.
"In the last seven years, six times 83 points has taken a team up (automatically). Look at what we've done this season, what we've achieved, the progress we've made and the momentum we're going into this game with.
"We haven't lost many goals over the last six or seven games and we've had good wins, so we're going into this game confident as well."