Guy Whittingham has issued a reality check to Pompey fans dreaming of a new great escape.
The caretaker Blues boss has overseen a dramatic upturn in fortunes with just two defeats in nine games to close the gap to League One safety to just five points.
While that form has sparked an inflated sense of optimism among some supporters that Pompey can clamber out of the relegation zone, fifth-from-bottom Oldham have three games in hand on Pompey.
And although Whittingham has been delighted with the recent improvement, he remains aware that an impending 10-point deduction – likely to be issued this term if the Blues can get out of the bottom four – makes it almost impossible to beat the drop to League Two.
Whittingham said: ‘There is nobody that glances at league tables more than us.
‘Supporters might be looking at them a bit more now but that’s the excitement that some good performances and some wins bring.
‘But let’s get back to realism. If the Supporters Trust are successful in April and we come out of administration, then we know we’ve got 10 points coming off us. So that makes it very, very, very difficult to stay up.
‘I think we would have to win all six games and even then, I don’t think that would be good enough with the 10 points coming off.’
Pompey travel to Preston today (5pm) as one of the form sides in League One and with confidence building all the time.
Whittingham said: ‘There is a different feel now. There is a good team spirit about and the confidence is there.
‘It was probably the Crewe game that started it. We had worked on our attacking play and we got the result there.
‘It gave everyone that bit of confidence and it has grown from there.
‘If you look back at our performance at Bournemouth, people were encouraged and started to see a few flickers of light when we had some good players join us.
‘But it really started with that Crewe game and the confidence of that first win.’
Whittingham has now set his players the goal to forget the probable sanctions and ensure that, if they are relegated, it is because of the points deduction.
The Pompey boss said: ‘Everybody is taking a grip of the situation and trying to get out of the bottom four. Then, whatever happens, happens.
‘I don’t know if it’s playing with freedom. I just think we’ve got a decent side together and this lot don’t want to lose.
‘I really think that the players are looking at it as though it’s the start of the season and we are nine or 10 games in.
‘They don’t feel as though they are in a relegation battle – they are just doing as best as they can for themselves, the club and the fans who have supported us.
‘They are enjoying their football and when you enjoy your football, you tend to find results are decent.’