Rovers have been underachieving in terms of their league position for much of the season, but for a spell that was tempered by the performances. As those start to dwindle, Rovers are underwhelming and underperforming too often aswell.

This was a disjointed patchwork, and that’s not even a reference to the pitch, which halfway through the season is looking somewhat desperate. That could too represent the performance which for too long was bereft of any life, cohesion or rhythm, and for a spell in the second half, no semblance of shape.

They are yet to prove they know of a ploy to get back into games when trailing. The only response we’ve seen is to flood the pitch with attackers.

During a bizarre, nine-minute period in the second half, between the introduction of Adam Armstrong, the final piece of the cavalry, and departure of Bradley Dack, seconds after he was denied from six yards, they had a back four, albeit one including two central midfield players, and then a front six, with very little inbetween.

There were quizzical looks over to the touchline for direction, Harvey Elliott and Joe Rothwell not appearing to know what was being asked of them, and as the game slipped away, the body language didn’t look like that of a team about to launch a grandstand finish.

The manager too went from being slumped in his dugout to screaming ferociously at his team. Neither approach got a response. Rovers were out of sorts, and then out of the competition.

Mowbray looked to brush away any doubts surrounding the performance, suggesting the chances created offered comfort and that it was Rovers’ finishing which was letting them down on the evidence of two shots on target from 20 attempts.  

Yet that would overlook the careless nature of some of the passing, the amount of times they over-played around the edge of the box, the way Doncaster were able to find open spaces to run at the backline, and the fact they have now failed to score on eight occasions this season. Their killer instinct has deserted them.

Rovers shouldn’t just brush this defeat away as just a cup exit, this far from in isolation with recurring themes throughout, reminiscent of what we’ve seen in the Championship too. 

It’s been a chore at times watching Rovers at Ewood of late, and with Stoke City and Swansea City next up, teams that have already shut them down this season, on a pitch not conducive to moving the ball quickly, they are going to have find some answers quick, this a fifth defeat in their last eight matches.

Mowbray has largely named strong teams in the cup competition, and couldn’t be accused of making wholesale changes here, despite the six alterations, with Bradley Dack among them, and deserved opportunities from the start for Tyrhys Dolan and Stewart Downing.

If anything, this was a scratch Doncaster, one put together on the back of just a handful of training sessions since returning from a two week break owing to a coronavirus shutdown at the club which had seen their last four matches postponed. They included two loanees signed only days before, two full backs in the holding midfield positions, and were two substitutes light on the bench.

However, with Rovers, there were aspects of the team being picked on who needed a game, rather than the best possible one to get the job done.

For the second successive season, an error from the stand-in goalkeeper cost them their place in the competition, as Taylor Richards’ shot squirmed its way through the gloves of Aynsley Pears.

Pears endured a difficult opening to his Rovers career, conceding inside 10 seconds when caught way out of his goal, and while a clean sheet last time out against Middlesbrough, albeit two months ago, was more promising, he struggled again here.

While Pears was undoubtedly at fault for the goal, the worrying sight of the central defenders backing off, and a midfield bypassed, was of concern too, as were the two earlier chances that Tyreece John-Jules and goalscorer Richards had when pulling off the shoulders of Rovers defenders in quick succession in the opening 16 minutes.

The best Rovers chance came just after the half hour, Tom Trybull flashing a ball across the face of the goal that somehow Darragh Lenihan didn’t turn home.

The same fate befell John Buckley with two minutes to play, ghosting in at the far post, only to fail to get the necessary connection to an excellent Joe Rothwell pass.

Joe Wright headed a Stewart Downing corner against the underside of his own crossbar while, after palming away a swerving Elliott strike, goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe was to his feet to keep out what looked a certain Dack equaliser.

For all the possession and territory, and 20 efforts at goal, their two on target came within a 10 second burst, the closest they came to equalise a calamity own goal.

This wasn’t Doncaster having to batten down the hatches, see off a swarm of Rovers pressure, Mowbray’s men guilty of over-playing and taking too many touches.

The fun-loving, free flowing style of the early season has gone, for now at least, and with now the halfway mark of the season reached, and no FA Cup run to concern themselves with, it brings us to the remaining 23 matches.

Mowbray has preferred to talk points totals rather than league tables, but Rovers need to give their supporters something to cling onto and get excited about again, or face another long end to a campaign.

Back-to-back home games against Stoke City and Swansea City, and another side above them in the table, Middlesbrough, to follow the Ewood double-header, it represents an acid test of where this side will be heading moving forward.

A fourth successive year of being knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle isn’t the start to 2021 they would have envisaged, and while the competition won’t have been top of the priority list, it was a way of providing some excitement and life to a time where we need every bit of that possible.

That now has to come in the league, and has to start happening soon on a consistent basis. With more minutes under the belts of both Dack and Travis, and the essential centre half cover sanctioned, there's little else that can be asked for, the only thing left, is to deliver.