What if anything, can you learn about a side’s plans from their summer recruitment?

If we look back at last summer, there were a few clues. There were the upgrade signings, areas where the manager felt he could improve on his starting XI.

That came in the form of left back Greg Cunningham, an area Rovers had struggled previously.

Then there’s the adding of experience. Tony Mowbray clearly felt that was needed last summer as Rovers tried to acclimatise more to the division with two players who have seen and done it, with Bradley Johnson and Stewart Downing.

There are those brought in to bring about a different style of play. See here Tosin Adarabioyo, still possessing the ball-playing attributes of Charlie Mulgrew, but with youth on his side and an added burst of speed that meant Rovers could play higher up the pitch.

There’s also signings brought in as necessity, Christian Walton signed on a season-long loan to fill the void left by the departure of David Raya as Rovers failed to attract their top targets who Mowbray envisaged would be an upgrade on the Spaniard.

Sam Gallagher was seen as a longer-term upgrade on Danny Graham, who was in to the final year of his deal. Also, Rovers did need to strengthen in attack meaning it was a necessity, and also provided flexibility to their forward play.

So what about this summer? Well there are more areas of necessity. Rovers simply must recruit two goalkeepers, and at least one central defender after the loan returns of Walton and Adarabioyo.

After that, it will be about where they prioritise their money, how greedy can they get with the finance available? That could depend on the system Mowbray opts for.

“That’s the task, that’s the journey, and every football manager across the country, and the world, is trying to grow their team and find a way that best suits them with the players they’ve got,” he said.

“Whether they have a number 10 who can control the game, brilliant centre halves who can keep a sheet, or a striker that can guarantee you 25 goals a season, you play to their strengths and build around them, and protect your weaknesses.”

Work the system around the players, or the players to fit in to the system?

Well Mowbray is keen not to get bogged down in formations, instead focusing on patterns and principles of play, and he believes a more possession-based style will be key to Rovers making a more sustained push for the top six.

The stats would back up Mowbray’s claim, the top four teams in the division all had the highest average possession. With 52.4 per cent, Rovers came in seventh, boosted by their post-lockdown approach, up from 50.5 per cent in 2018/19.

Their midfield recruitment could well hinge on Stewart Downing and whether he stays on for another 12 months. He was an instant hit last year, and offers Mowbray control from the central areas, and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down despite turning 36 last month.

Even with Downing signing though, if Rovers are to operate with a 4-3-3 formation for much of the season, unless Jacob Davenport and John Buckley are deemed ready to start matches on a regular basis, they may well benefit from another in that area.

If it is to be 4-2-3-1, then with Travis, Evans, Johnson, Downing and Davenport, Rovers could well be okay. However, the option saved there could well be needed at the top end of the pitch.

If it’s to be 4-2-3-1, then following the departures of Danny Graham and Dominic Samuel, Rovers could well do with another out-and-out No.9, and possibly a winger.

If it’s to be 4-3-3 then a combination of Dack, Holtby, Brereton, Armstrong, Rothwell and Gallagher could be seen as the firepower required to shoot Rovers up the table.

In reserve they have the likes of Jack Vale, Dan Butterworth and Harry Chapman.

If it’s a case of one or the other, then whether it’s a winger or No.9 who arrives could give an indication of whether Gallagher and Armstrong are seen a leader of the line, or whether the wide strikers plan will continue.

While 4-3-3 gave Rovers control of the ball, with an extra man in midfield, they didn’t create the same level of chances they did when playing in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1.  And that will be key for them in their planned ball-orientated style, can they turn that into chances, and more importantly, goals.

Mowbray doesn’t feel Rovers can simply be rigid to one formation and say ‘this is how we play, come and stop us’. That’s why he’s mixed around with formations, and why many of his signings have been based around assets, and fitting them in to the team, rather than being stubborn to one way of playing.

“It’s a journey and the journey never stops. This summer is going to be a very short break and straight back at it, and then weeks before the season kicks off we’ll try and embed in the principles of play, how we do it, and keep trying to build it,” he said.

“It’s very unlikely that any team will just make a couple of signings and everything changes. You have to have a way of playing and believe in it, the fans have to see it every week and know what’s expected.”

An intriguing summer awaits.