The final score was somewhat flattering but with a 3-0 triumph over fellow strugglers Basingstoke Town at Clarence Park on Monday St Albans City gave the first serious indication that they have both the personnel and capability to climb away from the lower reaches of the National League South.
Saints player celebrate on the way to their first home win of the season.
Leading goalscorer Louie Theophanous was the star of the show as his two excellent goals sandwiched a sublime effort from Lewis Hilliard.
The white-haired Hilliard justified the faith of the management team who gave him one more shot at convincing supporters that he can reproduce the form seen in past years when playing against St Albans.
Jack Green was also recalled to the side and was richly praised by joint-manager James Gray after the final whistle.
Completing a trio of changes was Ben Martin and the 33-year-old gave another commanding performance that was totally dominant in the air, as City restricted Jason Bristowâ€™s side to just three on-target efforts all evening.
Playing down the slope towards the Hatfield Road goal the Saints were ahead inside 12 minutes with Basingstoke having a hand in their own downfall.
The visitors were breaking at speed until Manny Williams tried an audacious back-heel that simply gifted possession to Green midway inside the City half.
The ball was quickly worked deep into the â€˜Stoke half through James Comley, Hilliard and Theophanous, with the latter chesting the ball into Hilliardâ€™s path.
Hilliard then slid a careful pass down the 18-yard line on the left side of the penalty area for Theophanous to collect.
Confronted by Town captain David Ray, Theophanous bided his time before arrowing an astonishing right-footed shot past Ray and inside the near post of surprised goalkeeper Aaron Howe.
It was a most remarkable goal â€“ Cityâ€™s 400th in Conference South â€“ and provided the tonic needed after the Saints abysmal showing two days earlier at Truro.
Basingstoke threatened a swift response from some dangerous corners by Tom Bird but a timid â€˜Stoke attack could make little headway against the City backline.
Indeed, it was City who almost found the net again when Gus Sow and Hilliard combined to set up Kevin Krans for a low drive from 23 yards that Howe, the son of former the Fulham defender and Basingstoke manager Ernie, needed two attempts to gather safely.
Ten minutes from the break Liam Enver-Marum almost found a way through the home defence when slipping the ball between Martinâ€™s legs out by the corner flag and advancing into the penalty area.
The strikerâ€™s run was finally ended when his low shot was blocked by the legs of Joe Welch as the keeper spread himself by the near post.
The Hampshire side continued to exert pressure with Harrison Gilkes winning the ball by the corner flag and cutting it back to Williams, whose first time effort dipped just over the crossbar.
Another good opportunity went begging for the visitors right on half time.
Ray challenged Martin for a cross by Bird but the ball sailed over both of them only to strike Enver-Marum and rebound to Ray, whose instinctive stab from eight yards rolled gently through to Welch.
Basingstoke showed no sign of letting up after the break and maintained a high tempo as they sought to wipe out the deficit.
If there was to be any addition to the score then Basingstoke looked the most likely beneficiaries but on 56 minutes they conceded a quite brilliant sucker punch second goal.
Hilliard struck Cityâ€™s second and final corner of the night in from the left to way beyond the back post. Martin stretched to reach the ball and helped it onto Krans who immediately played it back to Martin; this time the central defender swept a pass the width of the penalty area back to Hilliard.
Coming in from the left Hilliard moved the ball onto his right foot before curling a sumptuous shot across the fully extended Howe from around 20 yards for his first goal for the Saints.
Cityâ€™s first home success of the season was sealed on 62 minutes with a wonderfully crafted and executed third goal.
Sow broke up a â€˜Stoke attack midway inside the City half and led a counter-attack with a quick pass up to Krans.
Darting forward and then across the pitch the Frenchman played a good pass into the penalty area to where Sow had continued his run.
The former Crystal Palace youngster â€“ who is surely destined for a return to a higher level given his early performances at Clarence Park â€“ back-heeled a perfect pass into the path of Theophanous who clipped his sixth goal of the season high into the York Road net.
To their credit, Basingstoke maintained a high work-rate during the closing stages but continued to be shut out whenever they knocked on Cityâ€™s door.
St Albans could have added a fourth when Hilliard cut a low pass to Jordy Ndjeka but the 20-year-old, more familiar to life in the City Reserve team, missed the ball completely from eight yards and his chance of glory had gone.
Beaten 5-1 at the weekend Basingstoke would have appreciated a consolation goal to ease their wounds but in added time Flood flashed a wild shot well wide following a long range free kick by Bird.
Cityâ€™s biggest win over Basingstoke for seven years lifts the club to 17th in the table, their highest position since the opening game of the season.