A brick wall, a gaping manhole, an angry mob armed with more footballing clichés? In this kick and rush game, the hackneyed old phrase "we've turned the corner" often comes back to bite those who spouted it.
Along with "the board is 100 per cent behind me as manager", it is an utterance shrouded in predictable calamity. No wonder then, that Paul McGowan exercised caution when the question "have you turned the corner?" was put to him in the aftermath of St Mirren's barn-storming, last-gasp 4-3 victory over St Johnstone on Saturday. "You can't say that," he said, treading the kind of wary path usually reserved for a funambulist on the high wire. "You're always one defeat away from getting dragged back in there but we want to keep going like this. We're making small steps."
Those small steps are developing into significant strides for St Mirren. It may have been an edge-of-the-seat, hands-over-the-eyes kind of afternoon in Paisley but, in the end, the home supporters were up off their seats and vigorously clapping those hands. Back-to-back triumphs in the league, which started with a vital away win against beleaguered Hearts before the international break, have lifted them 15 points clear of the relegation place.
This latest victory was earned the hard way. They forged ahead only to allow their guests to level three times, they had a penalty saved and they waited until the last minute to score the winner. When the assistant referee informed all and sundry that there would be five minutes of added time just after Steven Thompson had bundled in a fourth goal, the girns and groans were considerable.
"These kind of games are nice for the fans but they're not too good for the managers and players to be involved in," McGowan said with a wry smile. "I don't know what it is with us. We go a goal in front and tend to panic instead of just going to try for another one."
It has been a turbulent season for St Mirren. Danny Lennon, the manager, has been besieged from all sides but Saturday's success was another positive sign that things are heading in the right direction. "At the start of the season, we didn't do ourselves justice, the manager justice or the fans justice," added McGowan.
"We had to look at ourselves in the mirror and thrash out a few things. It's starting to show in the results."