The Reds’ form is the talk of the division after an 11-match unbeaten sequence and run of eight wins in their last nine matches to propel themselves into the play-offs.
Saturday’s excellent win at top-six rivals Bournemouth saw sixth-placed Barnsley consolidate their position and move five points clear of the Cherries - and seven in front of Cardiff City in eighth.
Just behind are Warnock’s Boro, who themselves still have an outside chance of the top six, but he accepts that his side are very much the underdogs with the Teessiders being eight points behind Barnsley and six adrift of another of Warnock’s old clubs Cardiff.
Partisanship aside, the rise of both clubs - and Barnsley in particular - has brought a smile to the face of Warnock, even if he would probably have preferred it if the Reds’ form was not so impressive from a Boro perspective.
He said: “You are bound to say yes. But I have got to say, I love it. I love it when clubs like Barnsley do what they have done. I love Barnsley and that was my favourite club as a player.
“Me and Pughy (Graham Pugh) used to go in the social club after the game, whether we won or lost. And there were all the ‘flat caps’ and all the Barnsley lads in there all with their pints of beer and stuff.
“Even when we’d lost, me and Pughy would walk in there and we’d knew we were going to get some stick. Pughy used to get a pint of beer for himself and used to shout over to somebody: ‘Warney, what are you having? Just an ordinary sherry with a cherry in?’ ‘Yes, please Pughy.’ Because all the lads and the miners used to laugh at me having a schooner of sweet sherry with a cherry in!
“But that is what I drank. But the atmosphere was brilliant.
“To see a club like that go on a run like they have done...Hey, they are not everyone’s cup of tea with the way they play, but I have been criticised for similar styles throughout my career. But there is no divine right. Mick McCarthy has just gone 11 games undefeated and won eight games..
"You have to take your hat off to Barnsley and Cardiff.
“It is an incredible fate at this level. I am looking forward to going to Barnsley and competing against them and let’s see where we are.
“It was my favourite club as a player and had two great years there. It just shows you with all the big clubs in the world, it is what is in your dressing room which gets you there.
On whether his Boro side can catch up Barnsley, he added: “You would not have thought so. You’d thought it would be beyond anybody. If you were a betting man, you’d bet that the top six now will be there.
"But football throws so many different things up during the course of the season and have not got to worry about anybody else.”