The remarkable rise of Craig Mackail-Smith
The club had four managers, won a pitiful eight of 46 league fixtures and finished the season bottom of the table, a massive 15 points from safety.
But out of the ashes of that miserable nine months in English football's second tier emerged a striker whose form has seen him not only linked with numerous clubs from higher divisions but also rewarded with an international cap for Scotland.
Craig Mackail-Smith is the leading scorer in League One with 26 goals and was recently named as the division's player of the year at the Football League awards.
And the successes of a golden season for the 27-year-old can be traced back to the defeats and frustrations of the failed campaign in the Championship.
Mackail-Smith is League One's leading scorer and a wanted man. Photo: Getty images
"The year in the Championship gave me an insight into what you have to be like at that level and how you need to play if you want to reach the top," Mackail-Smith told me. "I then went away in the summer and worked on what I had to do in order to be good enough in the second tier and maybe even the Premier League. I feel that it has all come together."
Mackail-Smith had always been a hard-working and industrious striker, buzzing along the opposition's backline, tiring out the defence. He is often compared to a lower-league Craig Bellamy, but he knew he had to refine and polish his game, improving his movement and hold-up play, if he was to cut it at a higher level.
He also realised that he had to be more clinical in front of goal. Mackail-Smith scored a creditable 11 goals in a struggling side last season. The fact that eight of them were headers was testament to the improvement he had made in that area. But he also learnt that shooting opportunities had to be cherished and greedily accepted in the Championship.
"I have worked on being more clinical," added Mackail-Smith. "In previous seasons it felt as though I would need two, three or four chances before I scored but this year it has felt like I score every time I take a shot.
"I am always staying out for an extra half hour or so after training, working on my shooting. Posh coaches Mark Robson and Kevin Russell have helped me. If you want to do extra then there is always someone there to stay with you."
Golfer Gary Player once observed that the harder you work, the luckier you get and the same seems to be true of Mackail Smith, whose goals are a key reason why his team are well placed to claim a play-off place. His improvement was quickly apparent to Darren Ferguson when he returned to the club in January for a second spell in charge, with the Scot commenting on his striker's technical improvements.
Mackail-Smith's form has been noticed far beyond London Road as well, with numerous clubs thought to be circling for a player who is out of contract at the end of the 2010-11 season. Posh turned down a bid from Norwich in March, with the Canaries offering £1.5m up front plus another £1m in add-ons for a deal that would have initially seen the striker move on loan.
Norwich are one of six clubs to have contacted Posh about Mackail-Smith, with Reading and Hull thought to be among the other interested parties. However, club chairman Darragh MacAnthony has made it clear he wants £3m, with £2m up front, and recently admitted he expects the player to leave in the summer.
"Rumours about your future will always follow you if you are doing well," said a diplomatic Mackail-Smith when I asked him about what will happen when the season ends. "I'm just trying to keep my head down. The way I see it, my job is to make sure that Posh end the season winning promotion.
"Having said that, it was great for a club like Norwich, sitting second in the Championship and going for the Premier League to come in for me but it was just a case of carrying on."
The player was thought to be keen on joining Canaries, who are in the hunt to win back-to-back promotions and return to the Premier League. Interestingly, there were times during our conversation when he discussed his time at Peterborough in the past tense, perhaps a hint that he will definitely leave the club in the summer.
There is no doubt that Mackail-Smith feels an enormous sense of gratitude to Peterborough, who gave him the opportunity to play League football when they signed him from Dagenham & Redbridge, then a non-league side, in 2007. He had combined his career at Victoria Road with a part-time job in a well-known home improvement store, working in its garden centre, as well as studying for a BTEC national diploma in sports science.
"At the garden centre I did not have a direct manager so I was pretty much a law unto myself and could pretty much do what I wanted," he said. "I spent quite a bit of time sleeping and doing bits and pieces that I should not have been, but when it came to football training, I always put in 100% effort.
"I have learnt to appreciate what I have got; I have had to work hard and graft to get here."
Mackail-Smith could end the season scoring the goals that relegate his former club because Posh play Daggers on the final day of the regular season. He spent three years with them after joining from Arlesey Town in 2004 and made more than 100 appearances for the Essex club. He is one of many players to have been unearthed by manager John Still and reckons it would "break his heart" if he contributed to his former club's relegation.
Mackail-Smith made his Scotland debut against Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
However, Mackail-Smith is looking up the leagues rather than down, particularly after his recent international debut gave him a taste of life at the top. He qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother, who is from Edinburgh, and made his debut as a substitute in a friendly against Brazil at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on Sunday 27 March. Scotland were predictably outclassed by a young Brazil side inspired by Neymar, who scored both of the game's goals.
Mackail-Smith had started the weekend playing for Posh against Bristol Rovers in a Friday evening game and ended it as an 87th-minute substitute against the world's most famous team. When I asked him about his experience he just laughed as though he has yet to really comprehend that it actually happened.
"I tackled Dani Alves, it was my only touch but at least I got to play against Brazil," he said. "But that is what I want to be doing week in, week out, playing in that kind of arena and against those kind of players."
Mackail-Smith might yet realise his ambitions and is widely expected to leave London Road in order to try to achieve them.
He is determined to make sure that if he does, it is after helping Peterborough celebrate promotion.