The season is over. You’ll not find many Rovers fans raising a glass to mark the occasion, more likely doing so to erase the memories of a desperately disappointing 2021.

With the backdrop of a global pandemic, football offered a release, but following Rovers from afar became a tiresome experience, a section of supporters who by the end will have switched off, quite literally.

Back-to-back 5-2 home wins to finish offered only to the narrative of a missed opportunity and how when the odds are stacked in their favour, when the pressure is off, Rovers can run amok.

While one of a privileged few able to watch from inside stadia across the country, the regular 46-game season being crammed into a month less than usual, and with the added nine games of last season to finish off, it became at times a soulless experience.

It’s been another slow drag to the finish, and very few will be sad to see the back of a season which promised so much, but underwhelmed.

Tony Mowbray himself said: “Personally I have found it pretty tough this season. It feels like two years of non-stop because there was only three weeks break between last season and this and it’s been non-stop.

“I live a long way from my family and personally I’m happy this season has finished so I can go and rest, you still have to work because we need to sign players, so it never stops, but the ‘pressure’ of producing teams every week I can take a break for a few weeks.

“All the players need a rest, a break, a mental break, and the manager does as well.”

As midweek matches and continual kick-off changes made it hard to follow when Rovers were playing, the football Rovers were playing at times made them hard to follow.

Yet etched in among the season was a 29-goal striker with three hat-tricks, playing in a team who managed the seventh highest goal difference in the division, who five times scored at least four times in a game, but finished 15th and bar a flirt with the top six in January, fell well short.

As Adam Armstrong walked off at Ewood Park for possibly the final time in Rovers colours, he did so for the second consecutive home fixture with the matchball under his arm, and now deserves nothing more than landing a bumper summer move.

While fans long for a return to the halcyon days of a packed Ewood and challenging with the best the Premier League has to offer week in, week out, next season will be the 10th consecutive campaign outside the top-flight.

Last weekend was 20 years since Rovers last secured promotion to the Premier League, and 2022 will be 30 since they won a Wembley play-off book their spot back in the top flight after a 26 year absence.

Some had argued the squad assembled for this season was the strongest put together since relegation in 2012, offering the best possible chance to challenge for the top six and beyond, yet they are virtually back to where they started nine seasons on.

Maybe, as Mowbray pointed out this week, this is just where Rovers are at this point in their history?

In 2012/13, which also ended against Birmingham City, it was the goals of Jordan Rhodes, all 28 of them, a tally that Armstrong’s hat-trick goal saw him pass, that helped keep Rovers’ heads above water, a 17th placed finish, four points above the dropzone.

While it’s not been as close a run thing this time around, the promised land feeling further away than it did even 12 months ago.

Aided by parachute payments, Norwich City and Watford securing immediate returns to the Premier League, with Bournemouth aiming to make it a hat-trick in the play-offs. At the same time, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham look set to be relegated back to the Championship, with Sheffield United’s two year stay in the top flight at an end.

Not only is the gap getting bigger between the two divisions, there are concerns of a growing chasm between the rest of the Championship and those being relegated. Rather than parachute payments to help with the drop, they’re more akin to rocket-launching payments to catapult an immediate return.

Rovers’ plight in those early  Championship years has been well documented, the decisions made setting them back years, and they now head into a summer where they will be reliant on savvy spending, requiring a high success rate with signings.

The departure of senior players will ease the purse strings, the development of the Academy prospects a real plus, but Mowbray has been keen to point out that cash won’t be at a surplus.

But more than the holes within the squad that need filling, it is a mentality that has allowed 19 defeats, 15 by a one-goal margin, and a season to drift away so alarmingly, that most needs addressing. 

The manager doesn’t regret his top six talk, and nor should he. Very few scoffed at the suggestion at the time, or feel it over-ambitious, as in what is rightfully described as one of the poorest standards of Championship football for some time, Rovers had the tools capable of striking fear into the opposition.

Opposition managers speak in envy of the Rovers' attacking talents, yet changing their game-plan went from a show of respect to knowing just what was needed to nullify them.

Afford them time and space, and on a decent surface, and as we’ve seen on more than one occasion, Rovers will hurt you. The combination play of their front three was excellent, Armstrong’s display much more than a hat-trick hero frontman, while Brereton showed his huge nuisance value, adding upper body strength to close control.

The owners regular write out checks for several millions a season to offset the losses, and seem to have written off this season, accepting of this being ‘a season like no other’, affording Mowbray a fifth summer to try and secure more than a mid-table finish.

As for the game, well Armstrong scored a hat-trick, again, Rovers won 5-2 at home, again, and still you were left with a sense of what might have been.

As well as an outrageous dinked finish from Harvey Elliott, Armstrong’s hat-trick and strength and composure from Brereton on the stroke of half-time, Rovers still found a way to hand the opposition two goals, the Blues netting with their only two attempts on target to go 1-0 up, and level at 2-2, early in the second half.

‘See you soon’ read the Rovers scoreboard. Fans hope for a similar message when it comes to new signings, a vital summer ahead before we do it all again, but this time, with you.