Until their televised FA Cup exploits against Liverpool and Everton, Oldham Athletic operated firmly under the radar last season.
Everyone’s radar except John Ryan’s that is.
Ryan, among a rare breed of football chairman to have stood on the terraces before taking up his padded executive seat, knows his football - even rarer for a chairman these days, you might say.
He knows what to look for and he knows what he likes. He knows how to get what he likes too.
And in three games against the Latics in the space of a very cold winter’s month, he saw something to more than warm his cockles.
He saw the next manager of Doncaster Rovers. He saw into the future.
In Paul Dickov’s Oldham, he saw an organised 4-4-2 unit, working well in tandem, with a nice blend of midfield graft and attacking grace.
In the engine room sat a young lad called Dean Furman. He didn’t half put himself about. This lad can play a bit too.
Oldham might have been struggling at the opposite end of the table to Rovers, but Ryan saw something that he liked. A 3-1 defeat at Boundary Park in the FA Cup in December left a lasting impression on him.
Making mental notes, Ryan saw a team play in a way not dissimilar to his beloved Doncaster. He saw players giving their all for their boss and he liked the high tempo at which they did it.
In the dugout he saw a man in Paul Dickov destined for greater things.
At which point Dickov was sounded out, following Dean Saunders’ departure to Wolves in January, only those on the inside will know.
But a mutual respect between Ryan and Dickov clearly dates back further than earlier this month, when Brian Flynn stepped aside.
A smooth transition in terms of style of play clearly appealed. But it was not just what Ryan saw on the field that catapulted the 40-year-old Scot to the top of his wanted list.
Dickov, a hugely popular player who never left a grain of energy on the field for his various ex-employers, offers very good connections, with former clubs Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester, among others.
And for Ryan that network of football friends, which lends itself to favourable loan deals, offers a more cost-efficient way of competing in the Championship.
Rovers simply don’t have the resources or revenue to spend big this summer.
Ryan, Terry Bramall and Dick Watson dipped into their own pockets for Billy Sharp three years ago and where did it get them? So the alternative avenues that Dickov will open up in the transfer market were key to his appointment.
Likewise Rovers could not afford a big name, proven track record, boss. But nor did they want someone who saw Doncaster as a step down.
In Dickov they have a man genuinely excited to be here, a man with untapped potential - just the sort of background that Ryan seems to favour.
During 15 years at the helm, Ryan hasn’t hired a bad manager yet. He really does seem to know what to look for.