The League One season may have reached the stage where teams can be held to account due to the table having taken on a look that, with a few exceptions, will not be a long way from how things finish in May.
But Stuart McCall, the Bradford City manager, insists it is still far too early to start trying to second-guess how the season will pan out.
“To talk about where you are going to be in May at this stage is unrealistic,” said the Bantams’ chief, whose side sit fourth in the table with 20 points.
“Everyone has their opinion, of course they do. But we certainly don’t look too far ahead. There are too many bumps in the road to do that.”
McCall may not want to read too much into the table, instead preferring to focus on a points tally at Valley Parade that is two ahead of this stage last season.
But the standings do have a look of what might have been expected before a ball was kicked in August. Sure, Shrewsbury Town’s presence at the top is a big surprise, but, otherwise, the rest of the top 10 were all tipped to challenge this term.
For McCall, the target is to go one better than last season when City missed out on promotion via a play-off final defeat to Millwall. However, when asked to compare the strength of League One to a season ago, he admitted such a task was difficult.
“The three teams who came down are strong,” he added, “particularly in terms of squad depth. Compared to last year, Blackburn probably fill Bolton’s shoes due to the experience they came down with. Wigan similar.
“Bolton had financial problems. But lads like (Jay) Spearing, (David) Wheater, (Gary) Madine and so on had all played in the Championship.
“Rotherham have had a good couple of results at home lately, scoring five both times. Some decent teams came up, too. Doncaster have done well, they were unlucky at Arsenal and battered Plymouth.
“Then, teams like Southend and Charlton have not been able to put out anything like a full squad yet so I expect more to come from them.
“Plus, you look at teams like Scunthorpe, who are very solid and will expect to start moving up the table. There are a few like that.
“Comparing the two seasons and strengths is difficult, but it is certainly no easier this time. Budgets have gone up at certain clubs, including our opponents on Saturday. January could also change things. What happens then will be key.”