Sir Alex Ferguson once infamously described this stage of the season as “squeaky-bum time”.
With the title on the line, the pressure and excitement building, all it takes is one slip for it to crumble.
Even for three of the coolest heads in the Highland League, that pressure still applies with the finish line – and silverware – in sight.
Buckie have the competition’s two top scorers, with John McLeod and Sam Urquhart netting 40 and 27 goals respectively to propel them to the top.
Mitch Megginson has been leading the charge – and the front line – as Cove have looked to retain their crown.
Meanwhile in Pitmedden, Scott Barbour has been the most prolific of Formartine’s formidable forward options.
This weekend could prove pivotal, with at least one of four teams diverging from the path towards the title.
Already lagging behind in the race, second-placed Brora and fourth-placed Formartine go head-to-head at Dudgeon Park.
Defeat for either side ends the dream for another season. A draw kills the league campaign for both sides.
The tag of a fixture being a must-win is thrown around liberally at times.
On this occasion, Barbour accepts the situation certainly qualifies for the two teams.
“Oh, it’s definitely a must-win game,” he said.
“We can’t afford to drop any more points and it’s getting to the stage of the season where we need to win every game.
“If either team loses or draws, they’re out the title race.
“There are so few games left, and you’re relying on other teams to drop points even more then.”
Despite an 11-match unbeaten league run and a game in hand, Formartine remain eight points off the top.
Barbour is aware of the mathematical predicament and admits the side have already dropped too many points.
“It’s good that we’re unbeaten but it’s not about unbeaten runs, it’s about winning, it’s all about winning stuff,” he said.
“Even if we win, we will still be five points behind Buckie and four points behind Cove, so even then we need both of them to lose.”
Ex-Aberdeen man Megginson arrived at Cove in the summer after leaving Alloa and has notched 26 times since.
Last season, he was part of a team that were relegated from the Championship with four games to spare.
This time, he is part of a team just a point off the summit, with realistic ideas of retaining the title.
Tomorrow sees John Sheran’s team travel to take on a Wick Academy side fresh off back-to-back defeats to Buckie.
In Cove’s last five league games, they have rattled off five victories and scored 24 goals.
“We’ve got a very good attacking force and we’ve got a very good defence as well, which we’ve shown in the last few games again,” Megginson said.
“With the attacking prowess we’ve got, we’re confident going to go into every game and think we can outscore our opponents and get three points.”
Despite relying on results outside their control, Megginson does not expect a change in Cove’s approach.
Instead he wants to apply pressure elsewhere, harrying the leaders through results.
“It’s the three points that matter and it doesn’t matter how we get them,” he said.
“We’ll take it any way it comes to keep the pressure on.
“There’s a lot of pressure on Buckie, they are the leading team in the league just now so they need to keep winning.”
After leading for much of the season, Buckie are approaching a first title since 2011.
McLeod has been a key catalyst for their rise thanks to his incredible goals tally.
With a trip to Huntly, the league leaders have the easiest game of the trio on paper.
But McLeod suspects the season could come down “to the very last week” and isn’t taking anything lightly.
While Buckie have recorded four wins in their last five, the forward admits nerves have crept it recently.
He jokes the only result he looks for is that of former club Fort William.
But the forward is wary of how close Cove are and knows any slip could prove fatal.
“We are only one point ahead of them, so that would hand them the title,” he said.
“We can’t really afford to drop any points until the end of the season now.”
But it does come as something of a relief to McLeod that their fate is in their own hands.
“You’ve just got to concentrate on your own games because if we can go and win six games, it’s our title.”
As the title race nears its end, it remains to be seen whether even these three sharpshooters will falter under the pressure of “squeaky-bum time”.