Having gained only one of a possible six points during the first two contests of its three-matches-in-eight-days stretch, Real Salt Lake needed a punctuation mark to end the rapid-fire series and right the ship.
What it got was an exclamation point.
"For me, this is the most complete match we've played the entire season, and I think it's fantastic that this comes a day after I challenged the group," Real boss Jason Kreis said Saturday night after watching his side dismantle Columbus by four goals. "I feel like we've done a lot of good things this year in every single match. We've also done some pretty bad things in every single match. So tonight I thought it was the most complete performance we've had in a match this year, and it comes at the right time because we're at our most critical stretch. We have a lot to play for and a lot to look forward to. We needed to put some confidence behind our boot and that's exactly what we got."
While it's certainly true that Columbus this season is a mere shell of the Crew of recent years, it doesn't take away from the fact that Salt Lake thoroughly dominated the match from whistle to whistle.
It was the first time that RSL has scored four goals in a Major League Soccer match since May 19 when the Claret-and-Cobalt dropped a four-spot on hapless Chivas.
"I think we just need to go in with the right mentality," RSL midfielder Luis Gil said. "The ball was flowing a lot and moving around a lot and if we can keep that going our rhythm will just keep getting better."
For Real, regaining its rhythm after a bruising week was absolutely crucial, especially with the road ahead.
Salt Lake, which currently leads both the race for the Supporter's Shield and the top spot in the Western Conference, has just seven matches remaining to solidify its table position and clinch a sixth-consecutive MLS Cup playoff berth.
A stretch that begins on Friday when the team hosts Portland for their second meeting in nine days -- the Timbers battled RSL to a 3-3 draw on Wednesday in Portland, Ore., followed by a bye week and then a road match against rapidly rising Seattle.
If Real can ride the momentum it gained with Saturday's victory into a pair of results against the Timbers and Sounders, it will put Salt Lake in prime position to capture its first-ever Supporter's Shield -- given annually to the top point earner during regular season.
It's an honor that the team has for the most part declined to discuss, especially in the midst of such a tight race that will likely come down to the final matches of the season, but there is no doubt that it would be a disappointment to the veteran club not to capture one of the rare accolades that has eluded it thus far.
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at email@example.com.