Nigel Clough is demanding United finish the Sky Bet League One season strongly.
But the Gaffer is acutely aware that preparations for next season must begin to take shape now, with the play-offs beyond United following Monday's draw at Tranmere Rovers.
The Blades boss commented: "We still want to finish the season strongly with an eye on next season and we believe finishing just outside the top six will be a great achievement.
"The mentality we have tried to instil in that when you aren't at your best you don't lose, of course you want to win every game, but that is never going to happen, realistically.
"We need to have a good summer break, then get the players back in and focused on pre-season, that will be crucial to our chances next season.
"When you come from second from bottom to mid table in the space of three months, coupled with our cup run, it is inevitable that we were going to be running on empty now."
Looking ahead to Friday's clash with Port Vale, Clough revealed some early team news, adding: "Bob Harris will miss out, Stefan Scougall could return and Harry Maguire should be fine, so we are looking at selecting from a similar squad to what we did at Tranmere."