But they had reason to have a peak at the standings following a 5-0 drubbing of cross-town rivals SuperSport United in a one-sided Tshwane derby at Loftus Versfeld on Good Friday eve.
“It’s been so rough for us,” coach Pitso Mosimane said after the match, having asked where Downs were placed on the updated log table.
The Brazilians had endured a terrible spell, failing to register victory in their previous five matches in all competitions before dismantling SuperSport.
Mosimane admitted he was concerned, to a point where his own confidence had suffered a setback.
The win on Thursday, an emphatic one at that, was a reminder that you write Downs off as title challengers at your own peril.
And having reigning Footballer of the Year Khama Billiat back among the goals was an even bigger boost as they continue to play catch-up in an attempt to retain the championship.
Downs were falling behind, which made sense for Mosimane to temporarily turn a blind eye to the Premier League table lest the coach begins to believe there’s no turning things around, especially with high-flying Cape Town City and Kaizer Chiefs – although both have played three matches more than the defending champions – going full steam ahead.
Next week could again give Mosimane and the rest of the title contenders a clearer picture as to where the trophy could be headed – Downs face SuperSport again just three days after travelling to Orkney to play struggling Free State Stars on Sunday, and second-placed Bidvest Wits are involved in a top of the table clash with City.
“We are playing to qualify for the Champions League (finish runners-up at least) because I am not sure if we will win the league,” Mosimane said.
“But we should give it a go. I think we like to chase, maybe that is what we enjoy. We never changed the way we played.
“The way we went about things against SuperSport is how we have been playing, the difference is that the goals went in.
“Our supporters have found their voice again, and it wasn’t the first time this happens to me, where you just play one draw after another.”
Mosimane will be hoping Chiefs, the only other title challengers in action this weekend when they host Chippa United in Nelspruit on Saturday night, stutter to give Downs a chance to close the gap at the top with a win against Stars.
“That is a team we haven’t struggled against in the last two years, if I am not mistaken,” the coach said when asked about expectations against the Bethlehem-based outfit.
“But we should tread carefully because those guys score. They come from back-to-back defeats in the league and cup, so you never know what could happen against us, even though we’ve usually done well against them.”
Saturday: Golden Arrows v Ajax Cape Town (3pm); Kaizer Chiefs v Chippa United (6pm); Highlands Park v Orlando Pirates (8.15pm)
Sunday: Free State Stars v Mamelodi Sundowns (3pm)
Wednesday: SuperSport United v Mamelodi Sundowns, Cape Town City v Bidvest Wits, Polokwane City v Platinum Stars (all 7.30pm)