Money doesn't buy you success in football. But, in the Championship cream often rises to the top.

The second-tier table tells a very clear picture, with a nine-point gap separating third and fifth. Between fifth and 13th, only five points.

In the top four are the three relegated Premier League clubs, backed by top-flight players, managers, infrastructure and, of course, parachute payments.

Blackburn Rovers have faced all of the top three and lost. In all three games, they've come away with the same familiar frustrations.

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Against Leeds United, it was no different to Leicester City or Ipswich Town, with goals in either half from Daniel James and Crysencio Summerville enough to send the 7,000 plus away fans back down the M62 with a spring in their step, even in the torrential rain.

Between both boxes, very little separated the sides. The match was defined inside the 18-yard areas, as it so often is at the top of the game. 

The truth is, Rovers just don't have the quality in the final third, particularly, to make the most of their territory. They started brightly enough but still fell behind to Leeds' first real attack of significance.

The Whites had seen the posts of Leopold Wahlstedt's goal beforehand but those chances were not forged by incisive play but from individual errors. Leeds pressed high and won the ball back in dangerous areas, Georginio Rutter letting Hayden Carter off the hook early on.

Jon Dahl Tomasson felt it was Leeds' quality in transition that made the difference at Ewood Park and it is hard to disagree. The ruthless nature of James' strike, through the legs of Harry Pickering and arrowed into the far corner, summed up the difference in quality in that final third.

Leeds retreated for most of the second half but were content that Rovers wouldn't break them down. Blackburn huffed and puffed but couldn't blow the door down.

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The match stats will tell you it was an even game and rightly so. There was little in the 90 minutes but when you consider what each goalkeeper had to do, it told the story

It wasn't until the 80th minute that Illan Meslier was called into action, tipping over substitute Arnor Sigurdsson's header from a corner. By then, the game had been wrapped up by Leeds in transition again.

James Hill was caught out of position and was hobbling as he tried to get back. The Whites punished Rovers, a one-two between Archie Gray and Rutter to slide in Summerville, who lifted the ball over Leopold Wahlstedt in the same way Keinan Dewsbury-Hall did for Leicester on October 1.

That's Premier League quality for you. Leeds will be right in the automatic promotion race come May. Rovers will, hopefully, be within a cluster of teams fighting for fifth and sixth.

There is such a clear divide between the top four teams and the rest of the division. Leeds' 41 points from 20 Championship games would be good enough for top spot in most seasons. That's a testament to the pace that Leicester and Ipswich Town, who don't have the financial leverage from top-flight relegation, have set.

This is not a tough luck story nor a tale of Rovers being poor. It's just the reality of the situation. Across 80 per cent of the pitch, they battled and competed. Sondre Tronstad was everywhere and gave Ethan Ampadu and Glen Kamara a real game. Adam Wharton showed flashes of his quality and again reiterated why fans are so excited he has signed a new five-year deal this week.

But in other areas, Rovers are a little wet behind the ears compared to the very best at this level. Harry Leonard struggled against the experience of Joe Rodon and Pascal Struijk. Neither are older than 26 but they have countless Premier League appearances and international caps to their name.

The Callum Brittain experiment isn't working either. Again, the right-back lined up on the left wing and was ineffective going forward. He swapped to the right after the half-time reshuffle but he still struggled to get into the match.

On another day, they might've got the rub of the green with Bobby Madley. Pascal Struijk certainly handled the ball whilst sliding minutes after the interval, whether it was enough for a penalty could perhaps have gone either way.

Tomasson's options were at least bolstered by the return of Sigurdsson and Niall Ennis. But by contrast, Leeds brought on Italy senior Willy Gnonto, Bournemouth's Jadon Anthony and Tottenham's Djed Spence.

The reality is, Rovers are perfectly capable of competing with five-sixths of the division. Even against the other sides, they can be a match and spring the odd surprise but the table doesn't lie with 20 games gone.

All is not lost, though. As previously mentioned, there are five points between fifth and 13th so a top-six finish is still very attainable at this level.

Rovers' season will ultimately not be defined by their results against Leicester, Ipswich, Leeds, or even Southampton next weekend. What's more important is Bristol City at home, sandwiched in between.

The one cause for concern is the Ewood Park form though. Rovers have now lost six times in front of their own crowd, the same number as last season. It's the Hull City, Swansea City and Preston reverses that need to be addressed more notably.

In all of those games, Rovers have fallen behind and went on to lose. Since Tomasson arrived, they haven't won at Ewood Park in the Championship after conceding the first goal. That is a surprising statistic and one that does need to be eradicated too.

Perhaps that comes down to experience. Last season, the team went on that infamous run without collecting a point from behind. They've been far better at that in 2023 but it's still an issue at home, seemingly.

Rovers' two games coming up will serve very different challenges. But as the crux of this article spells out, it's the Bristol City match that will probably be more defining when the final reckoning comes.