Arsenal secured their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday, but there was inevitably a reserved mood after their 2-1 win over Burnley at the Emirates Stadium.
This was a weakened Arsenal side—showing nine changes from their previous game in the Premier League—and there were only a few smiles among them at the final whistle.
After all, the FA Cup is not their priority this season; they aspire to a greater prize.
As FA Cup holders, Arsenal naturally want to defend the trophy they won in 2014 and 2015.
Another win this year would see them become the first side for 130 years, since Blackburn Rovers in 1886, to win the famous old trophy for three consecutive seasons.
But the Emirates was not built to help Arsenal win FA Cups.
Arsenal’s recent triumphs at Wembley were enjoyed, but they should only be seen as the warm-up acts for the main event of winning their first Premier League since 2004.
Winning back-to-back FA Cups allowed Arsenal to board an open-top bus and host a parade outside the Emirates, but more importantly it also flooded the squad with a renewed confidence they could also be champions.
But finally, the long wait for the Emirates to host its first title-winning party could come to an end this May.
With 15 games remaining, Arsenal are nicely placed in third, level on points with Manchester City and three behind surprise leaders Leicester City.
Arsene Wenger will know he will never have a better chance to win a fourth title, as his traditional rivals lie battered and bruised around him.
Despite beating them last weekend, Chelsea are not a threat, slumming it in the bottom half of the table, while Manchester United lurch from crisis to crisis.
Arsenal’s experience, allied to their superior and deeper squad, should be enough to see off Leicester and Tottenham. While this pair haven’t got vertigo yet, their challenges should still falter soon.
And so that leaves Arsenal to slay Manchester City, a team that has rarely looked happy with itself this season and constantly looks capable of dropping points.
In the coming months, Arsenal’s path to any title will have to go through Old Trafford, White Hart Lane and the Etihad Stadium, where the Gunners have away fixtures, as well as hosting the leaders Leicester City at the Emirates.
While these might appear difficult games, Arsenal have already successfully dealt with these teams, defeating both Manchester clubs, handing Leicester a 5-2 loss back in September and drawing 1-1 with Tottenham.
If Arsenal were to repeat these results and take another 10 from 12 points from these games, they would surely be destined to be champions.
The message from Wenger has to be: You’ve done it once, do it again.
There appears to be a new steel about his side, a belief among them that they won’t implode this time; this really is their season.
This attitude radiates from the back where Petr Cech has become the influence and catalyst Wenger hoped he would be when he signed him last summer.
The Czech goalkeeper has the joint most clean sheets in the Premier League this season, keeping 10 from 23 games.
The Chelsea captain John Terry’s prediction that he would save Arsenal up to 15 points this season has simply been proved to be correct.
Walking into Arsenal's dressing room with four Premier League winners' medals in his back pocket, Cech has brought a new calmness and authority to their defence.
This has also had the effect of providing Arsenal’s renowned attacking talents with a stronger platform to perform, and in Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud, they have both the creativity and goal threat to push on and secure the title.
In Ozil, Arsenal have a potential Footballer of the Year, a player at his peak, who is constantly probing and looking to create precious chances.
Already he has both the most assists (16) and chances created (87) of any player in Europe’s five leading leagues, and in this form, Arsenal remain a major threat.
It was assumed the Gunners had started the season without a striker capable of capitalising on this stellar service, but Giroud begs to differ.
The Frenchman has 18 goals this season, including nine in his last 12 appearances. His team-mate Laurent Koscielny has observed how this season he can almost smell goals.
Beyond this pair, the talents of Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and—when he returns from injury—Santi Cazorla are all capable of their own match-winning cameos.
As their rivals falter, Arsenal have all the ingredients for a title win: a commanding goalkeeper, a steady supply of chances and a reliable goalscorer.
Arsenal’s biggest opponents would now appear to be themselves; for the title is theirs to win, nothing else stands in their way, there are no more excuses.
Starting with the visit of Southampton on Tuesday night, this should be the year Arsenal finally bring the Premier League trophy back to the Emirates.