Middlesbrough's performance on their return to the Premier League was attracting plenty of early adulation as they negotiated the first three fixtures without a defeat, but they are drifting into slightly shakier territory.
The opening sequence saw the Teessiders hold Stoke at home - a result which looks less impressive now that the Potters have lost five in five against top-flight foes since - triumph at Sunderland - the other side with one point from five games - and draw 0-0 at West Brom to end August in sixth.
Things haven't gone quite so impressively since the international break, with a 2-1 home reverse to then-winless Crystal Palace being followed by a 3-1 setback after breaking the deadlock at Everton.
The table doesn't offer them any reasons for immediate panic, positioning them 13th and as close to the top half as the drop zone, perched two points between each.
However, they are gathering a point per match, a rate that typically sits you between 17th and 18th, despite facing clubs with an average 2015/16 finishing place of 13th, and two of the embryonic bottom three are teams that were in the top half last season, so will be optimistic of improvement.
Yet regardless of those concerns, they not only remain the favourites to be top promoted club but have consolidated their position, being backed into a mark of 1.758/11 despite the fact that Hull, the initial frontrunners to go down, are two points better off and Burnley just one point behind.
In terms of both quality of starting line-up and squad depth, Boro appear to have the edge on both fellow newcomers though and the other factor in their favour is their tendency to improve as the campaign develops.
They commenced 2015/16 with one win in four before delivering five in a row and lost three of their opening five in his first full season in 2014/15 yet suffered a mere two defeats from the 26 Championship encounters that directly followed that sequence.
Recommended Bet: Back Middlesbrough to be top promoted club @ 1.758/11
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