SIX MONTHS ago, the Reds were running out at Chester City as the newly crowned Conference champions on the opening day of their historic League Two return.
Confidence was high and it was all talk of a possible second successive promotion for the Reds and taking the new league by storm.
The 2-0 defeat on that day was just, it was hoped, a blip as Stanley suffered stage fright with the eyes of the media on them after their well-documented return to league football after 44 years in the wilderness.
Surely, things could only get better.
Well, in fact, it hasn't really for the Reds.
There have been high points, like the win over Torquay which led to renewed optimism of clinching a play-off spot and reignited those early ambitions.
But since then it has mostly been a downward spiral and, while there were excuses for the opening day loss, it is difficult to find any for the defeat to Chester on Saturday.
And now the hopes of all connected with the club are much less loftier - with staying in League Two the main focus.
Chester came with a plan to the FES - with five across the back, all six foot battlers - and thoroughly stifled Stanley, restricting them to one shot on target - a Paul Mullin easy header.
And City used these powerful players to their advantage at set-pieces, forcing debutant keeper Przemyslaw Kazimierczak into a number of decent saves while one did get past him - Paul Linwood's 23rd minute blast which decided where the points went.
Stanley's assistant manager Jimmy Bell called City "dour" and "negative" but at the end of the day, the Chester fans weren't disappointed as they have claimed six points off Stanley and their side are looking upwards, towards the play-offs.
The Reds fans, meanwhile, were anxiously dashing off to look at other results and breathing a sigh of relief that they hadn't dropped into the drop zone.
Bell and manager John Coleman must have been frustrated after the game as their side could just not get past a rock solid Deva outfit.
Chester had done their homework on their January transfer target Mullin not giving him an inch as he had what was like two burly minders on him for most of the game.
New signing Stuart Fleetwood, on loan from League Two rivals Hereford, while showing a few glimpses of what he can do, was also restricted and wasn't given a sniff on goal in his first outing in a Stanley shirt.
And both wingers - in Andy Todd and makeshift wideman Rommy Boco - couldn't get into the match as they always ran up against a brick wall.
Experienced midfielder Tony Grant showed some neat touches early on while Stanley got their usual battling performance from Jay Harris but, in the end, Chester "did a job on us" as Bell said and were the ones who left the ground happy.
"I am very disappointed with the result against a team who obviously only came for one thing - and that was to steal a point - and they have done a job," said Bell.
"They put out a very negative team, with five centre halves, and we found it difficult to break them down.
"They came for only one thing in my mind, and that was possibly a draw, and they have won the pools by getting three points.
"We had good expectations of picking up three points against a Chester team who I know we are better than but talk is cheap.
"They came here to do a job, they are a very dour team and how far it will take them is up to their manager and how they want to play but I found it frustrating and I would be very frustrated if I was a Chester supporter.
"But if they can come here, which is a hard place to come to, and get three points it is all well and good for them."
Chester's second in command Graham Barrow was surprised at Bell's assessment of his tenth placed side - and manager Mark Wright has called the comments "disrespectful and unwarranted" - but they have both set their sights on bigger things.
"We beat Accrington in the first game of the season and at the time you would have said we were going to be in the frame for promotion," said Barrow.
"We've not achieved that but if we can just get some consistency, then it is well within our reach."
There was plenty of optimism before the match with Stanley having four new players on board in Polish keeper Kazimierczak, Fleetwood, Grant and Mauro Almeida but the Portuguese defender did not get international clearance in time.
And the Reds did sweep the ball around well in the opening 10 minutes with Rommy Boco having two early shots, although bothwere well off-target.
The Reds weren't able to capitalise, and Chester got into the game and started to get nearer and nearer to the opener.
Bolton loan keeper Kazimierczak pushed out a Jamie Hand effort and blocked Simon Yeo's follow-up while Dave Artell's header skimmed the post.
It seemed only a matter of time before the goal came and when Kazimierczak could only half punch a high ball in - and left some of his defenders floored in the process - Linwood finished well to lash the ball into the empty net.
Chester's new signings were having a say in proceedings with Yeo, signed from Peterborough, blasting an 18-yard volley just over the crossbar while the City fans were up in arms behind the goal appealing for two penalties.
In the first half, visiting keeper John Danby didn't have a save to make and it had to get better after the break.
It did in part with Phil Edwards trying his luck from range and Mullin whalloped a ball against a defender - a symbol of Stanley's luck.
But the visitors still looked the most likely to find the back of the net and it needed a superb last-ditch tackle from centre half Robbie Williams on the hour to stop Yeo closing in on goal.
Danby at last had a save to make on 64 minutes - when Mullin headed into his arms - but it was comfortable for him and this was his one and only real action of the game.
At the other end, Edwards cleared a Sandwith strike off the line and the Reds' Bolton shot-stopper kept out the defender's free kick.
Still, with 20 minutes to go and only one goal in it, the game could have gone either way and Coleman introduced the pace of striker Andy Mangan to try and change it around.
However it was City's substitute Alex Meechan - who Stanley fans know from his Forest Green Rovers days - who could have had a dream debut when he broke through one-on-one with Kazimierczak but the new keeper did well to rush out and deny him.
Edwards was there again to clear another effort off the line - denying ex-Wigan midfielder Roberto Martinez from a tight angle as Chester looked to make it safe.
As a last throw of the dice, with eight minutes left, Coleman threw on David Brown and Andy Procter and Stanley then wasted their best chance of the game as the fog descended.
It came in the dying minutes when a Boco corner fell to Mangan at the far post and blasted the ball goalwards.
Instead of finding the net, like Linwood's strike though, it was high, wide and over like Stanley's dreams of beating Chester.