Kevin Ball has urged Sunderland to build on the foundations they have lain during his spell in charge, irrespective of whether or not he remains at the helm.
The 48-year-old hopes to discover this week if he is to stay in interim charge at the Stadium of Light, be handed the job on a permanent basis or return to his role as the club's senior professional development coach.
But whoever sends out the team at Swansea on October 19, he insists they must perform to the standards they set on Saturday as they very nearly pulled off a shock against reigning Barclays Premier League champions Manchester United.
Ball said: "What I have said to them in there is that has got to be the minimum in future they do for themselves. Irrespective of who the manager is, that's the minimum they have got to do.
"They have got to keep building on that and building on that and building on that, adding bits of the game that we would like to see them improve on and hopefully results will come then."
Ball was asked to take over the reins temporarily following Paolo Di Canio's departure a fortnight ago, and a Capital One Cup victory over Peterborough has been followed by creditable performances in defeat against Liverpool and United.
However, the statistics make for painful reading and they have now collected just one point from a possible 21 this season and are already six adrift of safety.
Owner Ellis Short saw the latest instalment of Ball's reign in person and whether he has seen enough to consider appointing him - a decision which would go down well in the dressing room - remains to be seen.
But what is clear is that the former Black Cats midfielder has received a response from his players.
Asked if he had seen enough to convince him that Sunderland can get themselves out of trouble, Ball said: "What I have seen is a lot of players who are fully committed to the cause, and so they should be.