It can often seem a trite assertion when a manager proffers it as an ambition at this late stage of the season - and it is - yet St Mirren seemed suitably committed to the cause last night.
The Paisley side are unlikely to attribute any great value to finishing as the best in the bottom six, they moved within a point of Kilmarnock with their win at Rugby Park last night, but a positive end to the campaign will at least salve those who had hoped to break into the top six this term. There was enough on show to suggest that will not be an unreasonable expectation next time around.
Much of their best work in Ayrshire involved Paul McGowan. It usually does. The sprightly St Mirren forward was an irksome presence for Kilmarnock, and a conspicuous one for his side. His performance will have seemed particularly prominent for Kenny Shiels given his Kilmarnock side did not possess a player of similar aplomb.
The Kilmarnock manager has bemoaned a dearth of attacking options of late; and while the news that Deans Shiels - who had a hand in two goals on Saturday - shook off the effects of a chest infection was positive, the performance of the peripheral Dieter Van Tornhout was less so. Instead Kilmarnock's best chance of the first half fell, quite literally, to James Fowler. Gary Harkins showed typical poise when he meandered inside from the left flank and directed a low shot at Craig Samson, who was alert enough to block Fowler's follow up.
McGowan was not so inconvenienced. The forward has earned his plaudits after a series of rambunctious performances, and he added to that with a goal last night. Steven Thompson flicked the ball through to allow McGowan to saunter along the edge of the penalty, evade a clumsy challenge from Ryan O'Leary and nestle a delicate finish into the bottom corner after 10 minutes.
Also of concern to Kilmarnock will have been the ease at which Jeroen Tesselaar was able to operate from left-back; the Dutchman routinely galloping forward to nudge low crosses into the penalty area. The first of these was delivered to the feet of Nigel Hasselbaink after 17 minutes but the St Mirren striker was unable to steer his shot past Cammy Bell. He was given another shot at it a few minutes later only for Bell to divert his effort over the crossbar.
It was a routine which had perhaps begun to grate on Thompson by the end of the first half. Tesselaar was released once again by an adroit Kenny McLean pass and his cross was met emphatically by Thompson, who swept the ball beyond Bell. It was the striker's 16th goal of the season, form which should come in useful if his side is to mount a sustained attempt at reaching the top six next season.
Dean Shiels has shown similar efficacy this season - scoring 12 times this term - but the Kilmarnock midfielder was unable to add to his tally last night. He had a decent chance, too, after Darren McGregor conceded a penalty 10 minutes into the second half for using an arm to deflect Shiels' shot. Samson duly followed suit, scooping the midfielder's spot-kick away from danger.
"I felt both goalkeepers had big influences in the game," said Danny Lennon, the St Mirren manager. "Bell, in the first half, had a couple of terrific saves, and then Samson had a few. It was another very good game of football."
You got the feeling that Kilmarnock were to be frustrated and St Mirren seemed a attuned to the notion as they continued to mount forays towards the hosts' penalty area. McGowan went closest, but his low drive was tipped wide by Bell.
The forward rebuked himself, but substitute Gary Teale was perhaps more guilty of profligacy after he sent in behind by a long ball only for Liam Kelly to arrive in time to make a tackle. "That kind of football can only be good for the Scottish game," said Kenny Shiels afterwards.