Middlesbrough gained their first win of the season just before the international break, but are unbeaten in their last three having only experienced defeat on the opening weekend to Watford.
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock has this week refused to rule out a run at promotion but is all too aware of the tough fixtures that lie ahead in the coming weeks.
However, there could hardly be a better run of fixtures to indicate whether Boro have got what it takes to get up there among the challengers for top-six spots.
Reading provide the first challenge, followed by trips to table-toppers Bristol City and then Cardiff City, who will both offer robust interrogations of Middlesbrough's resolve and ability to grind out a result.
Boro are still busy recruiting ahead of the transfer deadline, and this week unveiled the return of Manchester City loanee Patrick Roberts. Rumours also suggest they could be looking to sign England full-back and out-of-favour Tottenham Hotspur man Danny Rose, with a loan deal looking most likely.
Reading, on the other hand, will be buoyed by their start to the season and will come into this fixture brimming with confidence.
It has been the club's best start to a season in 35 years and they will be determined to continue this winning streak behind closed doors at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Royals have already seen off stern tests in the form of Watford, Cardiff City and Derby County, and will be hoping to add Middlesbrough to the list of promotion-hopefuls that they have overcome.
Looking ahead, Reading's Serbian manager Veljko Paunovic will have one eye on the seven games to come in the next 22 days, and will need to ensure his players stay as fresh as possible over this gruelling period.
Middlesbrough Championship form: LDDW
Middlesbrough form (all competitions): WLLDDW
Reading Championship form: WWWW
Reading form (all competitions): WWLWWW
Patrick Roberts could be in line for a start, which would mean that young Marcus Tavernier could continue as a make-shift wingback.
Recent signing Grant Hall is expected to remain sidelined, while Warnock may look to shuffle his pack ahead of a relentless run of games.
Paunovic may welcome back striker Lucas Joao, who has made a speedy recovery from a shoulder injury.
The Serbian will also need to decide whether to bring Ovie Ejaria back into the side. The former Liverpool man missed the Watford win due to illness but has been back in training with the squad.
However, his replacement Sone Aluko produced an outstanding showing last time out, and will be eager to be given another start.
Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair; Spence, Tavernier, Howson, Saville, Roberts; Assombalonga, Akpom
Reading possible starting lineup:
Rafael; Esteves, Moore, Morrison, Richards; Rinomhota, Laurent; Meite, Aluko, Olise; Joao
We say: Middlesbrough 1-2 Reading
Although Reading have proceeded to sweep teams aside so far this season, we expect this to be a close affair, with Middlesbrough more than capable of holding their own against the league leaders. We expect that one team will shade it, and it could well be that Reading's firepower sees them over the line.