Championship 2012-13: Club by club
Manager: Tony Mowbray
Position last season: 7th
Players in: Jonathan Woodgate (Stoke), Grant Leadbitter (Ipswich), Emmanuel Ledesma (Walsall), George Friend (Doncaster), Mustapha Carayol (Bristol Rovers).
Players out: Barry Robson (Vancouver), Tony McMahon (Sheffield United), Jonathan Grounds (Oldham), Jonathan Franks (Hartlepool), Danny Coyne.
The return of the prodigal son has been a recurring theme at the Riverside in recent years with Tony Mowbray, an icon as a player, excelling in the dugout. Now it continues with another local, Jonathan Woodgate, back to bolster the defence when fit.
Last year, however, the problems occurred at the other end. While Marvin Emnes began the season superbly and Scott McDonald had his moments, a slender tally of 22 goals at home was a reason that Middlesbrough only won eight times in front of their own public and missed the play-offs.
Without the midfield invention of the departed Barry Robson, Grant Leadbitter - another native of the North East - will be important. Arguably Boro overachieved last season, and they need to be more incisive if they are to progress further.
Key Man: Lukas Jutkiewicz. - At a time when Boro have cut costs, January's £1.3m signing of Jutkiewicz was a rare sizeable investment. The forward only delivered two goals. Now - or when he returns to fitness - he has to supply more.
One to Watch: Curtis Main. One of the young forwards - Luke Williams is another - who will be looking to make a breakthrough this season.
Manager: Kenny Jackett
Position last season: 16th
Players in: Maik Taylor (Leeds), Scott Malone (Bournemouth), Chris Taylor (Oldham), Karleigh Osborne (Brentford).
Players out: Josh McQuoid (Bournemouth), Hameur Bouazza (Omonia Nikosia), Chris Hackett (Northampton), Tony Craig (Brentford).
Strangely fallible at home, but better away than fourth-placed Birmingham, Millwall confounded expectations even as they finished where many predicted. Now they are among the outsiders, suggesting a season of toil awaits.
But under Kenny Jackett's low-profile leadership, they have defied the odds before and, in Darius Henderson and - surprisingly - Andy Keogh, they had two players who scored at a fine rate last season.
If both can do so again and captain Paul Robinson can keep it tight at the back, and if the New Den restores its reputation for intimidating visitors, they should survive again.
Key Man: Darius Henderson. Awkward, abrasive and aggressive, Henderson is unlikely to win too many popularity contests but 28 starts in all competitions last season brought 19 goals. It was a terrific return.
One to Watch: Chris Taylor. His time at Oldham suggested Taylor was a goalscoring midfielder with the ability to step up a division. Now, finally, he has.
Manager: Sean O'Driscoll
Position last season: 19th
Players in: Adlene Guedioura (Wolves), Danny Collins (Stoke), Greg Halford (Portsmouth), Simon Gillett (Doncaster), Dan Harding (Southampton), Daniel Ayala (Norwich, loan).
Players out: Chris Gunter (Reading), Garath McCleary (Reading), Joel Lynch (Huddersfield), Luke Chambers (Ipswich), Paul Anderson (Bristol City), Marlon Harewood, George Boateng.
It has been a surreal summer at the City Ground. Forest's new Kuwaiti owners promised an iconic manager and delivered the deliberately understated Sean O'Driscoll, whose arrival on the coaching staff coincided with their end-of-season rally.
Lofty ambitions look a long way from being realised, however. Forest have lost an entire defence over the past year as well as Garath McCleary, perhaps the major plus point from last season, and, besides bringing in an all-new back four, some of their recruitment has been focused on the new manager's old club, relegated Doncaster.
O'Driscoll inherits a host of strikers, too few of whom have staked a case to play every week, and it may take time to implement his precise passing football. It could be a year of consolidation although, for his sake, it is to be hoped that the board recognise it is necessary.
Key Man: Adlene Guedioura. The Algerian made an impact after joining on loan from Wolves last season. Now the move has been made permanent and he should add power to an ageing midfield.
One to Watch: Robbie Findley. Last season was notable for one of the most excruciating misses of all during the FA Cup defeat at Leicester but, after completing his first full season in English football, the American ought to fare better.
Manager: Darren Ferguson
Position last season: 18th
Players in: Tyrone Barnett (Crawley), Shaun Brisley (Macclesfield), Robert Olejnik (Torquay), Michael Bostwick (Stevenage), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (Wolves), Danny Swanson (Dundee United).
Players out: Joe Lewis (Cardiff), Paul Jones (Crawley), Nathan Ralph (Yeovil), David Ball (Fleetwood).
Last season was a rarity for Peterborough: they neither went up nor down. Standing still represented real progress for Darren Ferguson and it would again: Posh have never spent three successive seasons at this level.
But maintaining the status quo is an entertaining process. Peterborough scored 67 goals and conceded 77 last season, giving them statistically the division's worst defence.
It explains the recruitment of a new goalkeeper, in Robert Olejnik, as Ferguson continues his policy of bringing in up-and-coming players, often from the lower leagues. It is a brave approach and survival would be a fitting reward, but it will be difficult.
Key Man: Tyrone Barnett. A quick, tall, powerful goalscorer, Barnett was nonetheless playing non-league football at 24, but he has looked a threat in his brief Posh career so far.
One to Watch: Robert Olejnik. Brought in from Torquay, Peterborough's new 'keeper could be busy.
Manager: Dave Jones
Position last season: 2nd (League One, promoted)
Players in: Chris Kirkland (Wigan), Anthony Gardner (Sheffield Wednesday), Nejc Pecnik (Nacional), Michail Antonio (Reading), Joe Mattock (West Brom), Diogo Amado (Lens), Chris Maguire (Derby), Bastien Hery (Paris Saint-Germain), Rhys McCabe (Rangers), Kieran Lee (Oldham).
Players out: Rob Jones (Doncaster), Clinton Morrison (Colchester), Jon Otsemobor (MK Dons), Richard O'Donnell (Chesterfield), Ryan Lowe (MK Dons), Chris Sedgwick.
After Dave Jones replaced Gary Megson, Wednesday finished last season with a flourish, a run of ten wins in 12 unbeaten games ensuring they departed League One and Sheffield United stayed in it.
Maintain that kind of momentum and a second successive promotion could beckon. More realistically, the aim should be to consolidate their Championship status.
In Anthony Gardner, Jones has signed a defender who should make Wednesday harder to beat. The injury-prone Chris Kirkland is another intriguing acquisition, if only to see if he stays fit, while Slovenia international Nejc Pecnik could add flair.
Key Man: Gary Madine. Like Huddersfield's Jordan Rhodes, the challenge is for Madine to show he can score at a higher level. No one else was in double figures last season, so it is vital he does.
One to Watch: Joe Mattock. The left-back is still only 22, but his career stalled at West Brom. Hillsborough might be the place to jump-start it.
Manager: Gianfranco Zola
Position last season: 11th
Players in: Manuel Almunia (Arsenal), Fitz Hall (QPR), Matej Vydra (Udinese, loan), Leo Beleck (Udinese, loan), Ikechi Anya (Granada, loan), Almen Abdi (Udinese, loan), Daniel Pudil (Granada, loan), Alex Geijo (Udinese, loan.
Players out: Adrian Mariappa (Reading), Scott Loach (Ipswich), David Mirfin (Scunthorpe), Josh Walker (Scunthorpe), Rene Gilmartin (Plymouth).
Watford used to be a byword for quiet overachievement, normally accomplished while prized assets were sold. Not now. After a takeover by the Pozzo family, owners of Udinese and Granada, and the appointment of Gianfranco Zola as manager, the Hornets are likely to feature in the headlines rather more often.
Whether they are in the promotion shake-up, as they aim to be, remains to be seen. One striker, Marvin Sordell, left in January; another, Troy Deeney, is in jail; and captain Adrian Mariappa has been sold to Reading.
Five loanees have arrived from Udinese and Granada but, like manager Zola, they are untried in the Championship. Watford have lofty aspirations but, in the short term at least, they may regret sacking the unglamorous but effective manager Sean Dyche.
Key Man: Manuel Almunia. The former Arsenal goalkeeper is the highest-profile signing to date but, while Fitz Hall has been added to the defence, he may not get enough protection.
One to Watch: Ikechi Anya. Few have a more eclectic CV than the Scot, who has been on the books at Sevilla, Celta Vigo, Halesowen and Northampton. The forward is one of the loan rangers and, given the need for strikers, could have a prominent role to play.
Manager: Stale Solbakken
Position last season: 20th (Premier League, relegated)
Players in: Bjorn Sigurdason (Lillestrom), Frank Nouble (West Ham), Jamie Tank (Walsall), Slawomir Peszko (Cologne).
Players out: Michael Kightly (Stoke), Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest), Sam Vokes (Burnley), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (Peterborough), Jake Cassidy (Tranmere), Jody Craddock.
Wolves' capitulation last season has led to something of a revolution. After Mick McCarthy - and, briefly but disastrously, Terry Connor - enter Stale Solbakken. After the British-is-best recruitment policy comes a more cosmopolitan approach.
Iceland international forward Bjorn Sigurdason and the loaned Malian midfielder Tongo Doumbia are notable signings, but just as relevant is the issue of who departs. So far, only Michael Kightly of the big names has gone but that is likely to change.
With a squad in a state of flux and a new manager, it is hard to predict how Wolves will fare. Promotion has to be the aim, however, and a core of the squad have gone up from the Championship in the past.
Key Man: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Top scorer in the division the last time Wolves were promoted, Ebanks-Blake struggled in the top flight, but he has proved prolific at this level in the past.
One to Watch: David Davis. The 21-year-old midfielder acquitted himself commendably in Wolves' traumatic end to last season.