Boro banking on Scottish connection
West Brom and Newcastle contested a 1-1 draw on the opening day of last season as they began their quest for an instant return to the Premier League.
Nobody was quite sure how they would respond to their demotion from the top flight, especially the Magpies, who had endured a traumatic time on and off the pitch, but both clubs adapted well to life in the Football League. So well in fact that they ended the season as the top two sides in the division.
Middlesbrough, who had been relegated alongside Newcastle and West Brom, fared less well. After sacking manager Gareth Southgate in late October, when they were fourth in the table and one point adrift of top spot, Boro eventually finished in 11th place. Their fans will hope that the chain of events set in motion with the appointment of Gordon Strachan as Southgate's successor culminates in promotion at the second time of asking.
Strachan hopes to be drinking to success at the end of the season
The former Celtic boss has presided over a radical overhaul of his squad, with numerous arrivals from Scotland. The key one is surely Kris Boyd. The 26-year-old is the Scottish Premier League's all-time leading scorer with 158 goals - and he found the net 101 times in 143 games for Rangers before heading south.
Boyd, surely the stand-out signing in the Football League, joins Scott McDonald, who joined from Celtic in January, and Leroy Lita at the club, ensuring Boro have plenty of artillery. They also boast highly rated midfielder Kevin Thomson, signed from Rangers in July, and defender Steve McManus, who has made his loan move from Celtic permanent.
"The SPL breeds players with character," said Strachan, who is clearly banking on the influence from north of the border to provide the steel required to win promotion.
Nottingham Forest boss Billy Davies, one of six Scottish managers in the Championship, said of Boro's transfer activity: "I am never envious of anybody but you can see by the players that Middlesbrough have signed their intentions for the coming season."
Davies, a shrewd and experienced manager, would no doubt like to boost his options as he looks to build on last season's play-off semi-final appearance. James Perch and Joe Garner have left, while David McGoldrick is out injured. Forest's transfer acquisitions committee in charge of bringing in new players had not signed anyone until Thursday's arrival of full-back Ryan Bertrand from Chelsea on a six-month loan deal.
"I'm standing at the bar waiting to be served," added Davies. "I can only do what I can with the squad I have got and right now it is weaker than this time last year. We should target the play-offs again but to do that I have recommended we require between three and five stellar signings. To challenge for automatic promotion, we will need more."
The feisty Scot is bewildered and, I would suggest, less than thrilled to discover most bookmakers have his team as second favourites to win the title.
"When we talk about favourites, we have to be specific," he said. "I would like somebody to assess and compare the quality, depth and quantity of our squad against Portsmouth, Hull, Burnley, Middlesbrough, Leicester, Cardiff, Swansea and various other teams. When they have done that, I would like them to tell me why we are so highly rated."
I still expect Forest to be challenging at the right end of the table. Hull and Portsmouth have financial problems, making it difficult to predict how well placed they are to push for an instant return to the Premier League.
"I think Portsmouth might surprise a few people," said BBC Football League pundit Steve Claridge. "They have certainly got the spine of what could be a really good side at that level. They have got David Nugent and Tommy Smith up front, both proven performers. Then there is midfield duo of Hayden Mullins and Michael Brown - again both good players at Championship level. In addition, they've got Marc Wilson and Ibrahima Sonko at the back. There is a nucleus of a team that might surprise a few."
I was surprised to see Nigel Pearson leave Leicester for the Tigers but he has said that, despite a small squad at the KC Stadium, he is confident of challenging for an instant return and I think he has made a good signing in James Harper from Reading.
Pearson did a sound job at the Foxes, taking them out of League One and into last season's Championship play-offs. It will be interesting to see how replacement Paulo Sousa, with his emphasis on passing football, does in his stead.
Bristol City pulled off a surprise signing in David James
Two more intriguing appointments are those of Steve Coppell at Bristol City and Aidy Boothroyd at Coventry. Coppell has won promotion to the top flight on three occasions and the dry-witted 55-year-old is a calm and competent manager, while the signing of England goalkeeper David James is a signal of their ambition. Boothroyd has also won promotion to the top flight, with Watford in 2006, and Coventry fans can expect a more direct approach than the system favoured under previous boss Chris Coleman.
Burnley did not succumb to the temptation to pay inflated prices for high earners on long contracts when they were in the Premier League. The Clarets arguably arrive back in the Championship in better shape than they left after their one season in the top flight. The major question mark is over manager Brian Laws. Can he replicate the promotion feats of previous boss Owen Coyle?
Cardiff look equipped to challenge again after losing last season's play-off final, especially with the club poised to sign Jason Koumas on loan, while Ipswich will hope to avoid the disastrous start that undermined their last campaign.
Then there is Reading. They improved considerably under Brian McDermott in the second half of last season, while Gylfi Sigurdsson is the shining light of a series of talented young players at the Berkshire club.
Leeds kick off their Championship campaign with Saturday's match against Derby live on BBC One. Simon Grayson's team have lost striker Jermaine Beckford to Everton but, like fellow promoted sides Norwich and Millwall, will be hoping to cause a surprise.
Norwich defender Russell Martin, whose side won League One last season, is confident the Canaries can make their mark. "There is always a surprise package, Blackpool being the best example last season," he told me. "We will be looking to give it a really good go."
I have heard it suggested that, with the sides dropping down perhaps not as strong as in previous years, this season's Championship will be an open and intriguing competition. But Forest boss Davies told me: "The Championship will never change. It does not matter who comes into it, up or down, every club knows they are one step away from the golden egg of the Premier League."
I know I have not mentioned every team here but if you feel your side has been overlooked and is definitely worth a mention, please tell me why.
And don't forget, you can watch all the goals from the Championship this season on the BBC Sport website. To whet your appetite, here's our pick of the best goals from the 2009/10 Football League campaign.