Last time Sunderland drew a blank at the Stadium of Light, it was greeted by boos and jeers.

The opponents were basement side Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland had slipped to an all-time low of 15th in League One, and the atmosphere was mutinous.

Less than a month later, Doncaster Rovers' rearguard action resulted in another stalemate but this time there was only a sense of disappointment and mild irritation on Wearside.

Why the change?

Well, between those two games, Phil Parkinson's men have collected 13 out of a possible 15 points.

And, in the two home matches included in that run, fans had seen their team crush Lincoln City and annihilate league leaders Wycombe Wanderers, taking matchwinning leads inside half-an-hour in both games, and playing some of the best football Sunderland have produced in years.

So they had a few Brownie points in the bank.

Ben Whiteman of Doncaster (L) brings down Luke O'Nien of Sunderland during the Sky Bet League one match between Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers

Sunderland were unable to make it four wins in a row, but in front of the Sky TV cameras they did extend their unbeaten run to eight games.

And the point they earned was enough to lift them to fifth place in the table - their highest position since the end of September - at least until the rest of League One play their games this afternoon.

Sunderland's improved form began with a win at Doncaster at the end of December, and Darren Moore's team arrived on Wearside for the return fixture determined to avoid falling into the same trap that had caught out Lincoln and Wycombe before them.

Their gameplan largely nullified Sunderland's attempts to seize the initiative, with the Black Cats' front three of Charlie Wyke, Chris Maguire, and Lynden Gooch, looking out of sorts and struggling to make any headway.

Doncaster saw off Sunderland's early threat and perhaps even shaded the first half without offering any serious attacking intent of their own.

The Black Cats stepped up the tempo after half-time and, while they had to wait until late in the game before they managed their first shot on target, they could have won it in injury-time when substitute Duncan Watmore was twice denied by Rovers keeper Seny Dieng in the space of a couple of minutes.

Sunderland's no 9 Charlie Wyke receives a yellow card

Referee James Adcock's eccentric display made him the target of the fans' ire throughout the match, but thankfully his inconsistencies did not affect the outcome.

Sunderland - and Parkinson - now face an important week on more than one front.

Firstly, they must prepare for back-to-back away games on Tranmere Rovers' gluepot pitch in midweek, and then at Portsmouth next weekend.

And secondly, Parkinson must bring in the reinforcements he needs before Friday's transfer deadline to ensure that this squad is capable of maintaining the levels it has set since Boxing Day.

Sunderland have navigated their way through their midseason crisis and forced their way back into the promotion picture.

But they still have a lot of work to do over the remaining 18 games of the season.