With involvement in cup competition over and the January transfer window open, Nottingham Forest’s fate now lies squarely in their own hands.

Focus at the City Ground has been narrowed and the Reds are masters of their own destiny.

In truth, a trip to Chelsea was never going to be more than a nice day out when looking at a much bigger picture.

Would dethroning the FA Cup holders and claiming a notable Premier League scalp have been nice? Sure.

Would it have counted for much in the grand scheme of things? Not really.

Cup runs can help to build belief and sustain momentum, but they can also be an unwelcome distraction when added to a list of more pressing priorities.

Promotion was, is and will continue to be the top target for Forest this season.

Up for grabs

(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

The owners appear to have made that clear, if you believe what you read, with Aitor Karanka fully aware of what his remit is on Trentside.

Sitting seventh in the Championship as things stand, the current campaign is one which could still head in one of two opposing directions.

Onwards and upwards would be the preferred choice, with play-off lottery tickets up for grabs.

A notoriously difficult division to navigate is, however, tightly packed and another stumble – such as the one endured towards the end of 2018 – could deliver a humbling tumble.

Forest have established a promising platform, but must now build on it.

A loyal fan base – who have snapped up season tickets in record numbers – are crying out for success and ready to do all they can to aid a push towards the Premier League Promised Land.

Display the requisite level of determination, application, graft and guile and a Red Army will help to carry weary troops over the line.

Those in charge of the purse strings have already shown that they are prepared to put their money where their mouth is.

Deliver on hope

And there is the promise of more backing in the winter window if required.

Away from the field, everything is in place.

On it, Karanka and Co have to show – regardless of what has already been achieved – that they are capable of delivering on hope and expectation.

There are no more distractions.

No more excuses.

This is it.

Four weeks to find any missing pieces of the promotion puzzle, 20 games in which to put it all together and – hopefully – one major cause for celebration come May.

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