The Saddlers started the campaign in impressive fashion and occupied a top-six spot at the end of September, however a sorry slump saw them fall as low as 19th come the halfway stage in the season while they also bowed out of two cup competitions in the process.
The club's long search for another victory finally ended against Colchester on December 22 and they have not looked back since, winning 11 of 16 games while losing just twice to move up to eighth in the npower League One table, just four points off the play-off places.
Defender Downing told Press Association Sport: "It's been up and down (this season). We started really well and then went through that dip in form and couldn't find that win from anywhere, I still think we put in some good performances and should have won games that we drew.
"But I think that stood us in good stead, really. We've learnt from that, the 16 games, we stayed together and kept believing and we've got a good togetherness about the team from that. That's probably been the spring now to go on this run that we've been on.
"It wasn't nice to go on that run, but I think we kept working hard and kept believing. That helped us and now we've got the performances and results and that have come from that."
Downing admits the current mood in the Walsall camp is a fantastic one full of confidence heading into Saturday's home clash against Crawley.
But he has revealed no-one at the midlands club has identified a minimum number of wins required from the remaining eight games to clinch a top-six spot, and feels as though the Saddlers are still regarded by others as play-off outsiders.
"We haven't spoken about it (a points target)," he said. "We're still underdogs and no-one expects us still to get in there, even with our form.
"We're just going to carry on trying to play the games, get the performances and tick each game off - there's eight to go and we'll see where we are in the next two or three games and give it one final push to see if we can sneak in there."
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