Ashley Williams: We've come a long way since QPR
SWANSEA City ran out at Loftus Road feeling uncertain — but left with their most decisive top-flight win.
Brendan Rodgers's summer departure to Liverpool had left many fearing for the future.
After all, the Northern Irishman had masterminded one of the most glorious chapters in the club's history.
He took Swansea into the Premier League on a spectacular day at Wembley and then stabilised them among a group of glittering football superpowers.
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How could the club continue to punch above their weight without him?
To make matters worse, influential midfielder Joe Allen had followed his boss to Anfield, while Scott Sinclair, one of the stars of Rodgers's reign, was about to join Manchester City.
In their place had come a clutch of players from La Liga who were still settling in to life at the Liberty.
And so Swansea travelled to big-spending Queens Park Rangers on the opening day of the season.
"That was such a strange game," remembers Ashley Williams. "A lot's happened since then.
"As a group of lads we have a bit of a laugh about it now.
"We're in a cup final, we're doing really well in the league and we didn't think that would happen back in August.
"That's football and it's credit to everyone who has worked hard this season.
"With a new manager and a team made up of a lot of new players, you don't really know what's going to happen. That's a fact.
"We went out, won that game and that gave us a lot of confidence."
It took just eight minutes for the doubts to start disappearing.
One of the summer's Spanish imports struck as Michu opened his account with an effort that squirmed under Rob Green.
Chico Flores then hit the bar during an opening period in which Swansea also rode their luck a little. The second half was one-way traffic.
Michu pounced again soon after the restart, delightfully steering Wayne Routledge's pass into the top corner as Swansea ran riot.
Nathan Dyer scored a quickfire double before Sinclair signed off with his final goal for the club.
With worries eased, Laudrup's side built on that 5-0 rout with victory over West Ham the following week, and the rest is history.
Swansea have improved on last season's achievements by establishing themselves in the top half of the table and have booked a Wembley meeting with Bradford.
"We feel like we can win most games these days, especially at home," says Williams.
"We lost last Saturday so we want to get back on track this week."
That defeat at West Ham was a rare blip as Swansea suffered their first Premier League reverse in eight games.
With the Capital One Cup final just two weeks away, it is understandable that players might be slightly distracted.
But Williams insists Swansea cannot neglect their league campaign.
Every point is precious as they push for a lofty finish, while positive results against Rangers tomorrow and at Anfield next weekend will be the ideal preparation for the showpiece to follow.
"These next two games, one at home and one away, are really important for us now," added Williams.
"We need results from these two games, then we will be confident going into the cup final.
"We want to continue performing well to keep our good form going.
"It's not just about the cup final, we've got points to play for."