Chris Smalling believes Manchester United have rediscovered the consistency that can see them mount pressure on Chelsea and Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League.
Although manager Louis van Gaal admits he is still not entirely happy with the performances of his side, United are currently on an 11-game unbeaten streak –including Sunday's FA Cup win over Yeovil Town – having not tasted defeat since a derby loss to Manchester City on 2 November.
While they are still nine points adrift of the top two, the United dressing room has been vocal in their belief that the gap can be closed.
The club welcome Southampton to Old Trafford on Sunday in a battle between third and fourth, and Smalling believes their new-found resilience can see them continue to rise up the table.
"I think the key is to keep the principles that the manager has set, because the run shows that we've got a bit of consistency," Smalling told United's official website.
"I think we've really shown our team spirit in games where we've had to dig in or come from behind. It shows how well we all get on. We're all happy no matter what position we're in and we work for each other.
"If we can prolong our consistency and continue our hard work in training, things will click and we'll creep up the league."
While United have won just one of their last four league games their unbeaten run has allowed them to keep hold of third place, with Southampton a point below and with Tottenham also approaching three points behind them.
But having ended 2014 so positively, Smalling is hoping for a similar start to 2015 to keep the daylight between themselves and those below them.
"Going into the New Year on the back of a good run means that it is a case of working even harder to climb the table and get as many points as we can.
"We need to do as much as possible on the pitch, and, as an individual, do as much as we can in terms of recovery and extra work."