St Helens made sure of third place in the final Super League table – something that would be easier to get excited about at a club not used to finishing first or second.
Saints will now have an away play-off against Wigan or Warrington in two weeks' time, with a second chance should they lose.
Against a stubbornly determined, if technically uneven Salford, they took their time to find the sort of form that could make them a threat to the Big Two, although there were some unmistakable moments of class from their rapidly developing scrum-half Jonny Lomax.
It was, though, the couple of hundred City Reds' fans who had made the journey who had the first reason to celebrate. Some tricky business between Ray Cashmere and Daniel Holdsworth in the middle of the park created an overlap for Danny Williams to score his sixth try in three games since arriving from the Newcastle Falcons.
James Graham marked his last home Super League appearance before decamping to Australia by getting himself sent to the sin bin for dissent when denied what he thought was an equalising try.
Cashmere considerately evened up the numbers by going to the bin for one of a series of Salford high tackles and it was Saints who flourished at 12-a-side.
Holdsworth's dissent saw them marched upfield, with Sia Soliola going over from close range. A couple of minutes later, Leon Pryce made the in-roads that led to Tommy Makinson squeezing in at the corner and Jamie Foster completed a matching pair of conversions from each touchline to emphasise his quality as a kicker in his first full season.
Salford were still defending far better than on some occasions this season and it was by way of recognising that fact that Jonny Lomax chose to put over a drop goal in the final seconds of the first half.
Francis Meli opened the second half scoring, from Michael Shenton's cross-field kick, to make Saints' lead a comfortable one. A fine pass from the busy Lomax then put Matty Ashurst through a gap in a tiring thin Red line of defence.
Foster maintained his immaculate standard of place-kicking as Saints eased their way towards victory without ever truly cutting loose. Their substitute, Lee Gaskell, completed the try-scoring. They could create problems for better sides than Salford.
St Helens: Wellens; Makinson, Shenton, Meli, Foster; Pryce, Lomax; Graham, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Dixon, Moore. Substitutes used Clough, Gaskell, Ashurst, Hale.
Salford: Patten; Broughton, Gibson, Gleeson, Williams; Ratchford, Holdsworth; Cashmere, Smith, Boyle, Henry, Anderson, Wild. Substitutes used Godwin, Jewitt, Adamson, Paleaaesina.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).Reuse content