Confined to a Covid-free bubble in India, former English Premier League defender Steven Taylor could see it was far from doom and gloom for the Phoenix.
Taylor left Wellington last year to join Indian Super League club Odisha, but had still kept close watch on the A-League club's progress from afar.
They'd collected just one of an available 12 points at their adopted home at WIN Stadium and like their rugby league counterparts the New Zealand Warriors before them, life on the road was seemingly taking a toll.
But it all changed quickly for the Phoenix and Taylor.
The former captain has returned, via two weeks hotel quarantine and a single training session, to play a full 90 minutes in his return game, against Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night.
"I think the lads have adapted well, there's no excuses," Taylor said.
"Everyone has made sacrifices, leaving family and home and stuff like that, but I think the lads are doing a good job.
"Everyone is working hard and not feeling sorry for themselves.
"I think the boys went through a bit of a blip, but watching the games in India, they weren't playing bad football, they just weren't getting the results."
The Covid border-enforced move to Wollongong came with plenty of anxiety over training, living and financial arrangements.
Even when the Phoenix were already in town, it took weeks for them to commit their season-long future here.
Coach Ufuk Talay speaks tersely when Wollongong is referred to as a 'home' game.
And Sunday's second double-header with the Wollongong Wolves may well be a long goodbye, amid a level of optimism and expectation in the Phoenix camp, that the New Zealand borders will re-open after April 6.
Their final two home games could yet be back in Wellington, following the Melbourne City clash on Monday week.
Oddly enough, the Phoenix may end up collecting more points in the Wollongong Wolves-inspired red shirt, than their customary yellow, at WIN Stadium.
The Phoenix have collected consecutive wins, against Perth and Melbourne Victory, in red, clawing their way back into the finals picture.
Taylor's return and the goal surge of ex-Brighton and Hove Albion striker Tomer Hemed has been timely.
Having played 268 games for Newcastle United, he knows all about a late-season scrap. Newcastle were relegated when Taylor was at the club in 2009-10, but he helped bring them back to the Premier League the following season, and again when he left in 2016.
Victory over Macarthur on Sunday would have Taylor and the Phoenix within touching distance of a top six spot.