Saints return to Barclays Premier League action this weekend with a trip to 16th placed Aston Villa on Saturday.
Nigel Adkins’ men exited the FA Cup last weekend, but swiftly turned attention to preparing for the first of two away league matches inside five days.
The cup defeat aside, Saints will take heart from their recent run of league fixtures which boasts just one loss in five, and includes points from trips to Fulham and Stoke.
This is the first match on the road for Southampton in 2013 and a full allocation of 2,977 tickets has already been snapped up by Saints fans in anticipation of a first win over the Villans in the Midlands since 2002.
Back in September, Adkins’ side got their campaign up and running with a first success of the season, seeing off Paul Lambert’s team 4-1 at St Mary’s.
Heading into the New Year however, Villa sit one place and one point above Saints going into this contest. They do though, also have an inferior goal difference and have played a game more, so they will be keen to avoid a slip up on home soil.
Villa Park has not been the fortress that Paul Lambert would have hoped for so far with a record of two wins, four draws and four defeats, as well as scoring the joint fewest goals on home soil in the top flight.
A midweek Capital One Cup defeat to League Two Bradford City will not have inspired confidence in a Villa side who have lost three and drawn one of their last four league matches, though they did taste success in the FA Cup, beating Ipswich Town 2-1 last weekend.
Of the current squads, Saints star Steven Davis spent three years in the senior set up with the Claret and Blues and won the club’s Player of the Year in 2006. He was also a member of their 2002 FA Youth Cup winning team.
Despite being defeated on the last two trips to Villa Park, the ground holds special memories for Saints fans, as it was the venue which hosted the victorious FA Cup Semi Final against Watford in 2003.
Saints will be without José Fonte and Adam Lallana who miss the trip through injury. Striker Emmanuel Mayuka has already linked up with Zambia ahead of the African Cup of Nations.
Nathaniel Clyne is likely to return after missing much of the Christmas schedule with a knock, whilst Gaston Ramirez and Rickie Lambert will be looking to return having not featured against Chelsea last weekend.
Villa will almost certainly make changes from the team that lost to Bradford City in midweek, with goalkeeper Brad Guzan amongst the players likely to return to the side.
Gary Gardner, Richard Dunne, Stilyan Petrov, Darren Bent, Marc Albrighton, and Chris Herd are all out for the hosts, but Gabby Agbonlahor should keep his place in the team. Ron Vlaar, Ashley Westwood, and Brett Holman are also on the comeback trail.
In late September, Saints ran out comfortable 4-1 winners over the Villans at St Mary’s thanks to a brace of goals from Rickie Lambert and strikes from Nathaniel Clyne and Jason Puncheon as Nigel Adkins’ men completed a second half comeback having trailed to Darren Bent’s opener for the visitors.
This match was a regular top flight contest until Southampton’s relegation in 2005 with Villa completing a double over Saints in the last top flight campaign in which the two teams met.
Saints were last victorious at Villa in 2002 when a James Beattie penalty settled a 1-0 success against the hosts who were reduced to ten men after goalkeeper Peter Enckelman was sent off.
Saturday's game is the 69th all-time meeting between the two teams. Villa have the upper hand with 27 victories to Saints’ 21. A further 20 games have ended all square.
Chris Foy will referee the game, and he will be assisted by Mr D Bryan and Mr M McDonough. Mark Halsey is the fourth official.
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
First Team Manager Nigel Adkins, and midfielder Jay Rodriguez spoke ahead of the game, and you can read their pre match thoughts on saintsfc.co.uk now
We also want your pictures from the weekend for our matchday programme feature ‘Marching In’