Old rivals Derby County and Nottingham Forest are equally desperate to return to the big time and have spent no shortage of money trying to get there.
Their most recent attempts have seen them go in very different directions in terms of managerial appointments.
The Rams lost Gary Rowett to Stoke and took a gamble on managerial novice Frank Lampard, while Forest appointed experienced managerial campaigner Aitor Karanka, who got Middlesbrough promoted in 2016.
Both sides suffered 3-2 away defeats in the EFL Cup in midweek, but the circumstances could not have been more different.
Karanka’s much-changed side put in a meek performance against League One Burton, while Lampard’s Rams were unfortunate not to follow up their elimination of Manchester United by stunning his former club Chelsea.
Lampard has been in charge for less time and has less experience; so why has he been able to improve Derby more than Karanka improved Forest?
Karanka’s experience is only valuable if he learns from it; but the Spaniard’s heavy spending at Boro didn’t work and it is proving similarly unsuccessful and muddled at the City Ground.
Karanka’s style is also more cautious and reliant on experience; Lampard has assembled a younger, more attacking side. Only one will get the fans excited.
Just like his old mentor Jose Mourinho, Karanka is beginnign to look slightly out of touch. Lampard is following the Maurizio Sarri blueprint – and that’s what’s working.