SPEAK about the Championship to those in the know and the perceived wisdom is that the only thing remotely consistent about this oscillating division is its inconsistency.
This much may ultimately be true, but analysis of the Yorkshire landscape almost a month into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness bears a remarkable similarity to the picture 12 months ago.
Then, as now, Leeds United sat at the top of the tree at the start of the final week of September.
Middlesbrough and Sheffield United were also well set in fifth and seventh position respectively, while currently they are second and fourth.
Sheffield Wednesday were in close proximity of the play-off spots in ninth place a year ago. Currently they are 10th and entitled to look upwards as opposed to over their shoulders.
Among the ‘dead men’ towards the bottom a year ago were Hull City, who now find themselves in a similar position.
After nine games of last season the Tigers were in 17th place with nine points. As it stands they lie in 21st position with seven points to their name and are again looking to pull clear of trouble.
Leeds’s haul of 18 points is two fewer than they managed in the first nine league games of 2017-18.
But the embers of September and start of October, 2017 and the run to the second international break of last season saw a few mental scars inflicted.
Painful defeats arrived at Cardiff City and at Hillsborough and momentum was ultimately lost as elements of self-doubt crept in. Some would justifiably say Leeds never truly rediscovered their mojo.
Ahead of the Whites’ latest televised trip to the blue and white half of the Steel City on Friday – almost exactly a year to the day since their last visit to Hillsborough on October 1, 2017 – avenging that 3-0 defeat would not just prove cathartic, but provide a psychological lift too.
After their appointment against the Owls, United face another Yorkshire derby at Hull next Tuesday before signing off for the next international hiatus with a home game with another side who have impressed many so far this season in Brentford.
Should Leeds’s navigation of these games provide a healthy points return then their Championship promotion credentials will be significantly hardened – with possibly a ghost or two laid to rest.
For Friday’s opponents Wednesday, the trick – as it has been for a good while – is backing up a big win with a consistent run.
In the first half of last season the Owls produced eye-catching victories and performances against the likes of Leeds, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, only to exasperate Wednesdayites by delivering a number of average displays on the back of those headline moments.
The devout hope among the home support on Friday will be that Wednesday can this time provide something substantive and meaningful to follow last weekend’s fine 2-1 triumph at Villa Park to suggest they may just be getting serious in their play-off pitch.
Like Leeds, Sheffield United also have demons to settle next up as they revisit the scene of one of their most forgettable performances of last season at Millwall.
Manager Chris Wilder tore a strip off his Blades players in the dressing room following a lame 3-1 loss.
It all serves as useful motivation at this stage of proceedings.
It is also worth recalling that Hull famously ended last September with a thumping and unexpected 6-1 home win over Birmingham.
Sadly, it proved a wholly false dawn as the Tigers stumbled aimlessly well into autumn, setting the tone for a bleak, joyless winter.
The forthcoming fixture list that sees Hull face Boro, Leeds and the Blades may be viewed nervously by Tigers fans from behind the sofa – but in the Championship you just never know.
The league standings at the end of play after the first full weekend of October – the prelude to the next international break – should tell us a fair bit more in regards to just where our White Rose contingent are heading, not forgetting promoted Rotherham, who sit 19th.
Viewing league tables at just past the quarter-season mark usually delivers a story or two and carries weight as opposed to the current navel-gazing.
As it stands just four points separate Leeds and Boro from 12th-placed Blackburn, a statistic which surely provides food for thought.