Winning, they say, is habit-forming.

Hapoel Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon certainly hopes so. Last night, his policy of playing every game to win and of using his strongest squad no matter how "unimportant" the competition proved itself. While other coaches opted to use the Toto Cup as an opportunity to give their younger players a chance to shine, Ben-Shimon has taken the competition seriously. For that, he deserves praise.

His squad of players - limited in number, depth and experience - also proved you don't need big stars with fat salaries to win things. What you need, and what Kiryat Shmona has in abundance, is self confidence and a little bit of luck.

It now seems almost inevitable - bar a collapse of titanic proportions - that Kiryat Shmona will win the league championships. If it does, it will be the first time to win the title for the first time since Bnei Yehuda did so in 1990. Given the massive spending power of the Big Four, this would be an astounding achievement.

Last night, Ben-Shimon and Kiryat Shmona took the first step toward a record-breaking season. If they keep their heads, nothing can stop them now.