IF defeat against Preston was a wake-up call for the players then victory against Birmingham City should be regarded as an epiphany.

For weeks fans have shrivelled their nose at the assertion Wanderers were close to turning a corner.

The record of one victory in 21 games boomed out louder than any evidence Phil Parkinson or Steve Parkin could offer to suggest their team was still capable of staying in the Championship.

On Tuesday night at St Andrew’s, however, some tangible evidence was finally produced that backs up their blind faith that League One football is not a foregone conclusion.

It remains the tallest of tasks, particularly given the division’s top two teams provide the next opponents, but not an impossible one.

“The Preston game was a bit of a reality check to us. We got back to what I feel we needed to be,” said Phil Parkinson after the final whistle on Tuesday night.

“On Saturday I said to the lads that we needed to get a bit of identity back. If people play Bolton they need to know they are going to have a tough game, run themselves into the ground.

“It was missing at the weekend but it was back tonight. It shows we’re alive and kicking and ready for the fight that lies ahead.”

For whatever reason, Wanderers had not shown the sort of energy they did at Birmingham in some time. Their threat in the wider positions from hard-working wing-backs Craig Noone and Pawel Olkowski was also a step-up on what we had seen since Christmas.

It was also noteworthy that Sammy Ameobi was taken out of the side, having put in a string of performances which looked as though the whole weight of the world was on his shoulders.

The former Newcastle United winger will come again. But while he is out of the firing line Parkinson needs to find a new source of inspiration for his team, and his move to a two-man attack has also been well-received by the fans.

Josh Magennis and Clayton Donaldson remain the only senior strikers at the club and each has looked isolated in recent times. Paired together, however, they represent a mixture of muscle and movement which might just ask a few questions of the Canaries tomorrow afternoon at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Whether they can continue as a front two may depend on Mark Wilson, who has reported tightness in his hamstring. If the Irishman is fit enough, Parkinson can keep with the back three that worked well in the Midlands, if not then a return to a back four would almost certainly see Bolton mirror Norwich’s normal 4-2-3-1.

The Canaries’ defence has hardly been miserly this season, conceding 42 goals, and has proved itself susceptible at set pieces. Wanderers are not as menacing as they once were under Parkinson at corners and free-kicks but Callum Connolly’s goal and a few long throw routines at Birmingham suggest it is an area the manager is once again looking to exploit.

With Mark Beevers back in the side there is another target to aim at, too. He scored at Norwich in December and before his recent Achilles injury the big centre-back was starting to look a force in the opposition box again.

Few gave Bolton a chance when they went to Carrow Road but Phil Parkinson believes his players can draw on that performance as they welcome Daniel Farke’s men this weekend.

The Bolton boss went to watch Norwich beaten 3-1 at Preston on Tuesday night and despite a vast difference in league position, he feels there is something to build on.

“We went to Carrow Road and lost with the last kick of the game,” he said. “We deserved something from that match. Win, lose or draw we want to see what we saw against Birmingham.

“We have to look at that performance and want more. That is the way it has got to be between now and the end of the season. No quarter given.”