From 31 games, 13th-placed Rovers have 11 wins, 10 draws and 10 defeats and only outside of the top half on goal difference. No team below them has lost fewer games, while only Aston Villa in 10th have fewer wins. The statistics suggest mid-table, and that’s exactly where they are.

The season can be broken down in to positives, areas of improvements, and negatives, with the former definitely outweighing the latter.

With 15 games remaining, near as damn it a third, have Rovers ever been looking over their shoulders? Even after the two most disappointing spells of the season, following defeats at Preston and Wigan in November, and the trio of losses around Christmas, Rovers were never nearer than nine points to the bottom three. That gap to third-bottom Reading ahead of Wednesday’s meeting is 17 points.

For a newly-promoted side to go through a whole season without ever looking over their shoulders is objective one ticked. Rovers' expectations were always about more than that, looking to continue an upward trajectory. They have shown they can more than compete at this level with the makings of a squad heading on the right path.

Having watched this side for so long, we know their limitations, but also their undoubted strengths which has got them in to the position they are.

The areas of improvement will centre around being smarter in seeing games out, taking away some of the reliance on Danny Graham, and finding better consistency in performance, while the negatives will centre around the goals against column away from home, and their anxiety in conceding in quick succession.

There could be accusations of Rovers not seizing the initiative in the transfer market in the midst of their best run of the season, with injuries leaving the squad somewhat stretched. Though the manager will point to the opportunities that hands to other players, and the likelihood is a number of the impressive Under-23s will be blooded before the season is out.

With the chance of a top half finish well within their grasp, and several high profile fixtures left, any possible assumptions of ‘the season being over’ don’t ring true.

They came up short against high-flying Bristol City, who like Sheffield United, are riding high in the top six having shown steady progress since their respective promotions.

The only goal came 10 minutes from time as a Callum O’Dowda corner was allowed to reach the far post, with Eros Pisano holding off Ryan Nyambe to turn in from close range, with Rovers struggling for a response.

The hosts’ best spell came in the opening minutes of the second half, lifting their intensity as Bradley Dack expertly took down an Adam Armstrong, only to be denied by Frankie Fielding at his near post.

Armstrong looked to prove his January player of the month prize was no flash in the pan as he carried Rovers’ main threat in the opening half, seeing a third minute shot drift wide, before stinging the palms of Fielding on the half hour.

Rovers’ attacking play was a little laboured though, a contrast to the visitors who were slick on the counter, denied clear-cut chances by one excellent Jack Rodwell tackle, and some poor decision making.

The closest they came, something that should have sounded a warning to Rovers, was when Famara Diedhiou headed over unmarked from inside the six yard box.

The striker went close to scoring just before the hour mark, with his downward header tipped over by David Raya, before both managers had claims for the opposition to be down to 10 men as Lewis Travis and Bailey Wright saw fouls unpunished when already on bookings.

Rovers need the majority of their players to hit top marks to win games, and in a match without too many clear-cut chances, a momentarily lapse proved fatal.