Pre-season is over, one that has presented as many questions as it has answers for Rovers leaving Tony Mowbray with plenty to ponder ahead of the new season.

A back three which worked so well to help shut-out Leeds United in midweek looked clunky and rigid, more often a back five, as Rovers toiled in the opening hour against League One opponents Bolton Wanderers where despite the friendly tag, the game was played in a derby-style atmosphere.

They battled back from 2-0 down, George Johnston having put the hosts ahead when steering in a right-wing set play, a lead that was doubled when Hayden Carter could do no more than turn in to his own net as the lively Dapo Afolayan fizzed a ball across the six yard box.

Staring a second defeat to lower league opposition in the face, Rovers livened up for the final half an hour, the spark being a switch to more familiar 4-3-3, Joe Rothwell and John Buckley providing creativity and drive from the middle of the pitch, with one-man tackling machine Jake Garrett the anchor behind them, while on a first outing of the close season, Sam Gallagher looked strong and hungry.

That brought more out of the others players too, none more so than man-of-the moment Ben Brereton, his first a simple tap-in, his second the finish of a player at the peak of his confidence, his every touch greeted by cheers from the travelling 1,200 away fans.

Those two goals in six minutes turned the game on its head as Rovers started to show their quality that had evaded them.

The concerns come as much off the pitch as they do on it, still no new faces heading into the final week of pre-season, a reliance on loans always meaning they will be playing a waiting game.

Then there is the unavailability, Daniel Ayala having been set to play, only to withdraw after the players reported for the game complaining of soreness. While precaution may well have been the right call, it does leave question marks over his fitness heading into the season.

Ayala himself had stated how key this pre-season was, and 45 minutes against Everton and 70 at Bradford City isn’t the ideal preparations for the defender who managed just 10 appearances last season, this an area in the pitch where Rovers are already light.

Tyler Magloire and Hayden Carter impressed against Leeds but showed vulnerabilities against Wanderers, and that inconsistency is something that Rovers will have to become accustomed to with their young players.

A lack of experience continues to be telling, Ayala and Bradley Johnson the only two players with Championship promotions under their belt, and the only two in the squad aged over 30. With both having struggled for fitness in pre-season, Johnson having come off injured in the opening friendly at AFC Fylde, that is a blow to the manager’s options.

Mowbray admitted after the game that star striker Adam Armstrong ‘is not quite on the button at the moment’ after a goalless pre-season and amid ongoing speculation over his future.

It doesn’t scream ideal preparation, but then other clubs have also faced problems of their own, not least opening day opponents Swansea City who have had two friendlies postponed because of coronavirus related issues, and are still searching for a manager after the departure of Steve Cooper.

The Academy production line remains a shining light for Rovers, Garrett in contention to start on the opening day, while Buckley has had a promising week to boost his own claims.

Mowbray stuck to his guns with 4-3-3 throughout the entirety of last season, but has hinted at the prospect of switching between a back three, and four, a flexibility which will either prove to be masterstroke, or create more indecision.

Whatever the system, can Rovers find enough goals from across the team? A double for Brereton was a positive, but four goals in five games shared among the Chilean sensation and Connor McBride is a worry, while defensively, plenty of chances have been given away, Thomas Kaminski having needed to be at his best against Leeds.

Expectations will be set much lower for this season. The first test is to try and come up with an opening day for the first time in 11 attempts when the Swans visit Ewood Park on Saturday. After that, we'll see what the Rovers rollercoaster offers up.