Championship 2012-13: Club by club
Manager: Keith Hill
Position last season: 21st
Players in: Ben Alnwick (Tottenham), Kelvin Etuhu (Portsmouth), Lee Collins (Port Vale), Mido (Zamalek), Tomasz Cywka (Reading), Jacob Mellis.
Players out: Andy Gray (Leeds), Jay McEveley (Swindon), David Cotterill (Doncaster), Jacob Butterfield (Norwich), Nathan Doyle.
Barnsley rather limped over the finishing line last season, winning just one of their final 15 games. If that bodes badly for this season, so did their struggle to score after Ricardo Vaz Te's January departure.
Keith Hill's response has surprised many, with Mido the unlikely arrival at Oakwell, but a truer indication of Barnsley's place in the football firmament came when midfielder Jacob Butterfield became the latest to be lured away by a bigger club.
Hill's teams tend to play good football but a defence that was breached 74 times last season must be a concern. If they do not tighten up, League One surely beckons.
Key Man: Mido. With a CV that includes Ajax, Roma, Marseille and Tottenham, Mido is unique in Barnsley history. Still only 29, he should be at his peak, but his last six years have only produced 21 goals and he has a career, and a reputation, to rebuild and his Barnsley debut will be delayed by a hamstring problem that could rule him out for three months.
One to Watch: Kelvin Etuhu. The young winger has never realised his potential but he has pace in abundance.
Manager: Lee Clark
Position last season: 4th
Players in: David Lucas (Rochdale), Hayden Mullins (Portsmouth), Ravel Morrison (West Ham, loan), Peter Lovenkrands (Newcastle), Darren Ambrose (Crystal Palace), Ben Gordon (Chelsea, loan), Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).
Players out: Ben Foster (West Brom), Jordon Mutch (Cardiff), Cian Hughton, Caleb Folan, Enric Valles.
For the second successive summer, Birmingham have lost their manager and, as they did last year, they seem to have secured an excellent replacement. Lee Clark was only beaten in three of his final 55 league games in charge of Huddersfield, even if a habit of losing in play-offs is something Blues will hope he hasn't brought with him.
Given owner Carson Yeung's financial problems and the regular sales of highly-rated players, managing Birmingham is no simple task, but Clark has a fine starting 11.
Blues should be particularly strong on the flanks, with the precocious pair of Nathan Redmond and Ravel Morrison as well as Chris Burke, perhaps the division's most productive winger, and new signing Darren Ambrose, who offers the promise of goals from deeper positions. Keep the team together and they could be promotion candidates.
Key Man: Jack Butland. A Euro 2012 squad member and Britain's Olympic goalkeeper, Butland has been fast-tracked at international level but his club football came on loan in League Two. Now it is time to show what he can do.
One to Watch: Ravel Morrison. His talent is not in doubt but, even at 19, Morrison is running out of chances. Loaned out by West Ham, where he only made a single appearance, perhaps the most gifted player to come through Manchester United's youth system since Fergie's Fledglings needs to show the right attitude to realise his considerable potential.
Manager: Steve Kean
Position last season: 19th (Premier League, relegated)
Players in: Danny Murphy (Fulham), Dickson Etuhu (Fulham), Leon Best (Newcastle), Nuno Gomes (Sporting Braga), Fabio Nunes (Portimonense), Paulo Jorge (Porto), Colin Kazim-Richards (Galatasaray, loan).
Players out: Junior Hoilett (QPR), Yakubu Ayegbeni (Guangzhou), Vince Grella, Michel Salgado, Herold Goulon.
After the most traumatic and troubled of seasons, Blackburn find themselves in unfamiliar territory - the Championship, after 11 years in the top flight - but in their now usual position of possessing fans who dislike a manager, in Steve Kean, whose continued employment bemuses them.
Anything short of promotion would constitute further failure, not least for ambitious recruits like Danny Murphy, but, Blackburn being Blackburn, anything could happen. No sooner had Leon Best been signed to spearhead the attack than he was ruled out for the first half of the season; however, as the bid for Jordan Rhodes indicated, Blackburn are willing to carry on spending.
Murphy and Nuno Gomes add experience in abundance but questions remain: Can Rovers shift the unwanted and unhappy? Can Kean and new coach Colin Hendry tighten up an awful defence? Can the manager turn things around?
Key Man: Danny Murphy. The 35-year-old brings much-needed nous to the midfield but will need others, his former Fulham team-mate Dickson Etuhu in particular, to do his running if he is to control games.
One to Watch: Adam Henley. The teenage left-back impressed in his few opportunities last season. If Martin Olsson leaves, he could become a regular.
Manager: Ian Holloway
Position last season: 5th
Players in: Isaiah Osbourne (Hibernian), Jake Caprice (Crystal Palace), Tiago Gomes (Hercules), Scott Robertson (Dundee United).
Players out: Roman Bednar (Sivasspor), Keith Southern (Huddersfield), Brett Ormerod (Wrexham), Matt Hill (Sheffield United), Lomana LuaLua (Karabukspor), Stephen Husband (Dunfermline), Daniel Bogdanovic.
Lightning almost struck twice last season, with Ian Holloway's idiosyncratic formula - excellent attacking, questionable defending, loads of loan signings - nearly producing a second promotion in three years.
That the excellent wingers Matt Phillips and Thomas Ince remain means Blackpool have a chance again, with the principal departures being the valiant veterans Brett Ormerod and Keith Southern.
Two other old stagers, Barry Ferguson and Kevin Phillips, retain their importance. The latter is a reason to expect goals aplenty and, perhaps, another play-off place.
Key Man: Tiago Gomes. The Portuguese played in La Liga for Hercules and has the task of improving a sometimes porous Pool defence.
One to Watch: Thomas Ince. Son of Paul, the 20-year-old winger scored at Wembley in the play-off final against West Ham and has the ability to create and take chances.
Manager: Owen Coyle
Position last season: 18th (Premier League, relegated)
Players in: Matt Mills (Leicester), Keith Andrews (West Brom), Andy Lonergan (Leeds), Benik Afobe (Arsenal, loan).
Players out: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Paul Robinson, Nigel Reo-Coker, Ricardo Gardner, Robbie Blake, Gretar Steinsson, Sean Davis, Ivan Klasnic, Tope Obadeyi.
After the heartbreak comes the hard work as Bolton set about regaining their place in the Premier League. It helps that a slimmer, younger squad has been stripped of some of its underachievers while some stalwarts, such as captain Kevin Davies, have chosen to remain.
If Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong, whose long absences were a cause of their demotion, play the majority of the campaign then they should be challengers. If both leave in January, as is possible, then Bolton may be resigning themselves to an extended stay in the second tier.
Much rests on Marvin Sordell, barely trusted by Owen Coyle last season, to reproduce his fine form for Watford and England Under-21s, while David Ngog, still yet to score at the Reebok, owes Wanderers a few goals. They will be required if Bolton are to make a swift return to the elite.
Key Man: Matt Mills. The most expensive defender in the Championship when he joined Leicester last summer, Mills had a disastrous year. He joins a Bolton back four who had a miserable time and who will be without David Wheater until 2013. Both have a point to prove.
One to Watch: Gregg Wylde. Owen Coyle has an eye for a winger and Wylde, one of the first to leave Rangers, should form part of the supply line. If Lee or Chris Eagles goes, the Scot will grow in importance.
Manager: Gus Poyet
Position last season: 10th
Players in: Wayne Bridge (Manchester City, loan), Andrew Crofts (Norwich), Bruno (Valencia), Tomasz Kuszczak (Manchester United).
Players out: Alan Navarro (Swindon), Michael Poke (Torquay), Jake Forster-Caskey (Oxford, loan).
Brighton returned to the Championship last season with a brand of passing football that brought plenty of plaudits and results that veered dramatically between golden runs and sharp slumps.
So consistency may be the aim if they are to take a step forward and finish in the top six. More goals would help, too, with £3.25 million record signing Craig Mackail-Smith only contributing nine in the league, hard as he worked.
Poyet's squad is a beguiling mix of up-and-coming youngsters, veterans of the lower leagues and players with a pedigree at top clubs. The borrowed Wayne Bridge belongs in the third category and now football's highest-paid spectator will finally be expected to start every week.
Key Man: Vicente. Brighton's fortunes may hinge on how many minutes the former Valencia man plays. His class is unquestioned, his fitness more of an issue.
One to Watch: Bruno. Another recruited from Valencia, the right-back joins the influx of Spanish speakers to the Sussex coast.
Manager: Derek McInnes
Position last season: 20th
Players in: Tom Heaton (Cardiff), Greg Cunningham (Manchester City), Jody Morris (St Johnstone), Paul Anderson (Nottingham Forest)
Players out: Jamie McAllister (Yeovil), David Clarkson (Bristol Rovers), Christian Ribeiro (Scunthorpe), Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Notts County), David James.
City improved after Derek McInnes replaced Keith Millen and timed their run to safety well but have few other fond memories of a season in which they flirted with relegation and averaged under a goal a game.
The fact that striker Jon Stead was their player of the year suggests the problem may have rested with the supply line so Paul Anderson could be the most significant of the signings, but funds are limited at Ashton Gate, with big earner David James among the summer departures, and a season of mid-table anonymity would be a success.
Key Man: Paul Anderson. Since being signed by Liverpool at 17, the winger has not quite justified the hype but he offered glimpses of his talent in his time at Nottingham Forest.
One to Watch: Greg Cunningham. One of many products of Manchester City's excellent academy, the left-back has had to drop a division for first-team football. Having helped Forest beat the drop last season, he now has to do the same for City.
Manager: Eddie Howe
Position last season: 13th
Players in: Jason Shackell (Derby), Sam Vokes (Wolves), Joseph Mills (Reading, loan), Luke O'Neill (Mansfield), George Porter (Leyton Orient), Brian Stock (Doncaster-Burnley).
Players out: Jay Rodriguez (Southampton), Andre Amougou, Clarke Carlisle, Brian Easton.
Eddie Howe's youthful revolution at Turf Moor continues, albeit without the brightest of the next generation after Jay Rodriguez's £6.5 million move to Southampton. It is a sign that Burnley continue to turn over a profit in the transfer market, but also a reason to suggest they are unlikely to challenge.
New captain Jason Shackell represents a rare experienced acquisition, tasked with providing leadership at the back, but on-loan Joseph Mills is a more typical signing.
Burnley have to improve on a meagre tally of seven home wins last season but, if they do, Howe's enterprising side should have few alarms.
Key Man: Charlie Austin. Scorer of 16 league goals last season at an average of better than one every other start, the former non-league forward is even more important after the loss of Rodriguez, even if Sam Vokes is the direct replacement for the new Saint.
One to Watch: Luke O'Neill. An England Under-17 international but a player who was plying his trade for non-league Mansfield last season, O'Neill has jumped three divisions over the summer.
Manager: Malky Mackay
Position last season: 6th
Players in: Kim Bo-Kyung (Cerezo), Etien Velikonja (NK Maribor), Heidar Helguson (QPR), Jordon Mutch (Birmingham), Joe Lewis (Peterborough), Craig Bellamy (Liverpool).
Players out: Kenny Miller (Vancouver Whitecaps), Tom Heaton (Bristol City), Aaron Wildig (Shrewsbury), Jon Parkin (Fleetwood), Lee Naylor, Paul Quinn.
In his brief managerial career, Malky Mackay has overachieved every year. His maiden campaign in Cardiff almost brought the Carling Cup to Wales while Premier League football, once again, proved cruelly elusive.
Over the summer, the Bluebirds have become Redbirds, after a change of kit, while there is a very different look to the team with the addition of Slovenian striker Etien Velikonja and South Korean midfielder Bo-Kyung Kim. Besides two up-and-coming Englishmen, goalkeeper Joe Lewis and midfielder Jordon Mutch, a promising quintet of signings is lent stardust by the return of Craig Bellamy and his idiosyncratic blend of bite and brilliance.
But much depends on whether Cardiff can keep the excellent Peter Whittingham and, if they reach the end-of-season knockout, if they can finally progress via the play-offs.
Key Man: Etien Velikonja. The £1.8 million signing becomes one of Cardiff's biggest buys and, after the now departed Kenny Miller top-scored last season with just ten league goals, he and fellow new boy Heidar Helguson have the responsibility of providing them with a clinical touch.
One to Watch: Joe Lewis. As a comparatively rare English goalkeeper, Lewis has already been in the senior squad. However, he lost his place at Peterborough last season so he needs to get his career back in track.