Championship 2011-12: Club by club
Manager: Dougie Freedman
Position last season: 20th
Players in: Glenn Murray (Brighton, free), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham, undisclosed), Mile Jedinak (free transfer), Jonathan Paar (Aalesund, free)
Players out: Claude Davis, Kieran Djilali (both released), Neil Danns (Leicester, free), Adam Barrett (Bournemouth, undisclosed)
Dougie Freedman cemented his status as a Crystal Palace legend with last season's salvage job after he replaced the sacked George Burley. A fine home record, aided by some resilient defending, suggested the former striker knows how to stop goals.
Scoring them can be more difficult. The leading marksman, James Vaughan, was only on loan so Glenn Murray, in his debut campaign at this level, becomes pivotal.
Palace's excellent youth system can help fill in some of the gaps in the squad but ensuring they aren't in the scrap at the division's foot would represent progress for Freedman.
Key Man: Darren Ambrose - A seven-goal season last year was respectable, but Palace would prefer a repeat of the midfielder's remarkable, 20-goal, first year at Selhurst Park.
One to Watch: Wilfried Zaha - Palace's young player of the year has been stuck on one career goal for almost a year, but the raw striker has the potential to trouble goalkeepers rather more often.
Manager: Nigel Clough
Position last season: 19th
Players in: Frank Fielding (Blackburn, £300k), Jamie Ward (Sheffield United, £600k), Theo Robinson (Millwall, undisclosed), Craig Bryson (Kilmarnock, £500k), Nathan Tyson (Nottingham Forest, free), Jason Shackell (Barnsley, £1m), Chris Maguire (Aberdeen, free), Adam Legzdins (Burton, undisclosed)
Players out: Chris Porter (Sheffield United, free), Greg Mills, Arnaud Mendy (Macclesfield, free), Robbie Savage (retired), Ben Pringle (Rotherham, free), Miles Addison (Barnsley, loan), Luke Varney (Portsmouth, undisclosed), Ross Atkins (Burton, loan)
In his third full season at Pride Park, the time has come for Nigel Clough to switch the focus from cutting costs to elevating a club with admirably loyal fans back towards the top of the table.
He has certainly been active in the transfer market, with the onus very much on youth, especially after the retirement of Robbie Savage.
Rob Hulse and Kris Commons have never quite been replaced in the forward line but while the speedy Nathan Tyson and Theo Robinson and the combative Jamie Ward are all options, none is a natural goalscorer, and that promises to hinder Derby's efforts.
Key Man: Jason Shackell - The most expensive signing could also be the pivotal one: Derby's defence was breached 71 times last season. The new centre-back needs to ensure that number is rather lower this time around.
One to Watch: Chris Maguire - Clough has recruited regularly from Scotland and Maguire, signed from Aberdeen, is an inexperienced addition to the forward line.
Manager: Sean O'Driscoll
Position last season: 21st
Players in: Tommy Spurr (Sheff Wed, £200,000), Kyle Bennett (Bury, undisclosed), James Baxendale (Leeds, free), Richard Naylor (Leeds, free), Chris Brown (Preston, free), Ryan Mason (Tottenham, season-long loan)
Players out: Wayne Thomas, Dennis Souza, Steve Brooker (all released), Byron Webster (Northampton, free), Ryan Burge (Port Vale, free), Waide Fairhurst (Macclesfield, free)
A terrible second half to last season - just two wins and 13 defeats in 23 games - suggested a club on the slide. Doncaster, however, would argue it was the consequence of a crippling injury list, rather than decline.
That Rovers have kept hold of Billy Sharp and James Coppinger, who were both wanted by Ipswich, is one welcome sign, especially as the former is much the most clinical finisher at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Yet while Sean O'Driscoll's neat passing game is laudable, a fine start will be required to prevent the embarrassing statistics of last season becoming more pertinent and an end to their stay in the second tier may be in sight.
Key Man: Richard Naylor - The former Leeds captain brings solidity, commitment and leadership, all attributes that should benefit a defence that conceded 81 goals.
One to Watch: Kyle Bennett - The 20-year-old midfielder displayed pace and skill in helping Bury to promotion last season.
Manager: Nigel Pearson
Position last season: 11th
Players in: Joe Dudgeon (Manchester United, £80k), Corry Evans (Manchester United, £500k), Dele Adebola (Nottingham Forest, free), Jack Hobbs (Leicester, undisclosed), Paul McKenna (Nottingham Forest, free), Robbie Brady (Manchester United, loan), Peter Gulacsi (Liverpool, loan)
Players out: Matt Duke, Craig Fagan, Anthony Gardner, Tijani Belaid (all released), Nolberto Solano (Hartlepool, free), Liam Cooper (Huddersfield, loan), Mark Cullen (Bury, loan)
Had last season's takeover, or the signings of strikers Aaron Mclean and Matty Fryatt, come sooner, then Nigel Pearson might well have achieved a play-off place in his first season at the KC Stadium. Instead, a slow start cost Hull.
Now with a slimmer squad after many of the Premier League players have left, Pearson has his own team, several graduates of the Manchester United Academy and the experience of Dele Adebola and Paul McKenna.
Continue in the vein they finished last year and a top-six spot should be more attainable this time around, especially if Corry Evans and Robbie Brady, two of the arrivals from Old Trafford, can add creativity.
Key Man: Paul McKenna - The midfield general should add nous to a midfield that, in Robert Koren and James Harper, already boasts plenty of pedigree and power.
One to Watch: Corry Evans - Brother of Jonny and a scorer on his Northern Ireland debut, the former Manchester United midfielder is one of Pearson's emerging youngsters.
Manager: Paul Jewell
Position last season: 13th
Players in: Ivar Ingimarsson (Reading, free), Nathan Ellington (Watford, free), Michael Chopra (Cardiff City, £1.5m), Aaron Cresswell (Tranmere, tribunal), Lee Bowyer (Birmingham, free), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Arsenal, £1.1 million), David Stockdale (Fulham, loan)
Players out: Pablo Counago, Luciano Civelli, Kevin Lisbie, Ian McLoughlin, Brian Murphy, Alan Quinn, Reggie Lambe, David Cawley (all released), Gareth McAuley (West Brom, free), David Norris (Portsmouth, free), Tom Eastman (Colchester, free), Troy Brown (Rotherham, free), Connor Wickham (Sunderland, £8.1million)
Replacing Roy Keane is never the simplest of tasks, but Ipswich benefited from trading in the idiosyncratic Irishman for Paul Jewell.
A summer of change has seen many of the stalwarts of Keane's side go, along with the precocious Connor Wickham, as Jewell rebuilds the squad.
Lee Bowyer and Michael Chopra bring pedigree while Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and, in particular, the highly-rated goalkeeper David Stockdale have the chance to realise their potential. It amounts to an ambitious assortment of arrivals. Underachievers last year, the target will be the play-offs this time.
Key Man: Michael Chopra - While overshadowed by Craig Bellamy and Jay Bothroyd last season, Chopra is a former £5 million player who belongs among the Championship's top strikers.
One to Watch: David Stockdale - Borrowing the keeper is a coup for Jewell and he could be a rare Championship player in England squads this season.
Manager: Simon Grayson
Position last season: 7th
Players in: Paul Rachubka (Blackpool, free), Michael Brown (Portsmouth, free), Andy Lonergan (Preston, £150,000)
Players out: Richard Naylor, Shane Higgs (both released), Neil Kilkenny (Bristol City, free), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester, £1.5m), Bradley Johnson (Norwich, free), James Baxendale (Doncaster, free)
The great entertainers on their return to the Championship, Leeds were a promise of goals. But an encouraging year had an anticlimactic end as, after spending most of the season in the top six, they missed out on the play-offs.
With Kasper Schmeichel, Neil Kilkenny and Bradley Johnson going, it has been a discouraging summer, too, and one to suggest that, while he is banning his players from using Twitter, chairman Ken Bates is less keen on reinforcing Simon Grayson's squad.
In Luciano Becchio, Davide Somma, the much-admired Max Gradel, Robert Snodgrass and Jonny Howson, Leeds should be prolific again, but they surely need to tighten up if they are to go one better than last year.
Key Man: Andy Lonergan - That Kasper Schmeichel excelled last year and Leeds still conceded more goals than 10 sides who finished beneath them shows the scale of the task for the new goalkeeper.
One to Watch: Adam Clayton - A former Manchester City midfielder with a famous namesake, Clayton could benefit from the moves of Kilkenny and Johnson.
Manager: Sven-Goran Eriksson
Position last season: 10th
Players in: Lee Peltier (Huddersfield, £700k), Neil Danns (Crystal Palace, free), Kasper Schmeichel (Leeds, £1.5m), Sean St Ledger (Preston, undisclosed), David Nugent (Portsmouth, free), Matt Mills (Reading, undisclosed), Paul Konchesky (Liverpool, £1.5 million), John Pantsil (Fulham, free), Michael Johnson (Manchester City, season-long loan)
Players out: Ricardo, Robert Ambrusics, Ashley Chambers, Nathan Hicks, Jorrin John, Ben Milnes, Luke O'Neill, Aman Verma, Adi Yussuf (all released), Craig King (Telford, free), Michael Lamey (Wisla Krakow, free), Jack Hobbs (Hull, undisclosed), Cian Bolger (Bristol Rovers, six-month loan), Conrad Logan (Rotherham, six-month loan)
None have spent more and none have fewer excuses for failure. Sven-Goran Eriksson has been given the budget and the opportunity to propel Leicester back to the Premier League. Frankly, he ought to.
Too generous in their defending last season, Leicester's response has been radical: a new goalkeeper, in Kasper Schmeichel, and a whole new back four, in full-backs John Pantsil and Paul Konchesky and centre-backs Sean St Ledger and Matt Mills.
David Nugent is the major addition to the attack, but with a 15-goal midfielder - captain Andy King - Leicester's firepower also includes a midfield that could feature Owen Hargreaves. They start as favourites.
Key Man: Matt Mills - Possibly the best centre-back in the division and, if he isn't, with a reputed price tag of £5 million, he probably should be.
One to Watch: Michael Johnson - Compared to Colin Bell when he emerged at Manchester City, he has barely featured in three injury-ravaged years. But the midfielder, whose finest days came under Eriksson at Eastlands, has class.
Manager: Tony Mowbray
Position last season: 12th
Players in: Curtis Main (Darlington, free), Malaury Martin (Blackpool, free)
Players out: Maximilian Haas (released), Willo Flood (Dundee United, free), Kris Boyd (Eskisehirspor, free), Andrew Taylor (Cardiff, free), Didier Digard (Nice, undisclosed), Leroy Lita (Swansea, £1.75 million)
A 12th-placed finish may suggest a season of mid-table anonymity, but it was actually an achievement for Tony Mowbray after Middlesbrough diced with a second relegation in three years.
With a smaller budget and a trimmed-down squad, Mowbray's reliance on local lads is understandable, enforced and important, especially if and when more of Gordon Strachan's highly-paid signings depart.
Mowbray's fondness for fine football is well known and if he can ally that with a cut-price play-off push, it would be highly impressive. Given the resources some of Boro's rivals enjoy, mid-table would be no disgrace.
Key Man: Scott McDonald - The £3.5 million man found goals easier to come by in Scotland than England, but with Kris Boyd and Leroy Lita gone, much rests on his ability to find the net.
One to Watch: Richard Smallwood - One of the products of Boro's Academy who is breaking through, the midfielder began to make his mark after Mowbray's appointment.