Last season the objective was crystal clear.
This season not so.
But Doncaster Rovers aren’t thinking solely about the short term.
When Darren Ferguson was appointed as boss, two years ago to the week, Rovers sat 20th in League One but the club were still aiming high.
“It has been made clear that the aim is to get to the Championship,” said the Scot during his unveiling.
No one needs reminding what happened next.
After instantly regaining their League One status, Ferguson told a national newspaper during the build-up to last month’s Carabao Cup trip to Arsenal, that “this season we’re looking to consolidate”.
“[Then] you’re probably thinking you need to have a bit of a go at it,” he added.
‘Consolidation’ doesn’t float everyone’s boat, and almost contradicts Ferguson’s initial brief. However, it fits with the club’s five-year plan to reach the Championship by 2022, which was drawn up following relegation to League Two.
“When I say consolidation we want to be competitive,” explained Ferguson. “What I mean by that is we all hope for success this season, as every club does.
“But I think we’ve got to be more realistic than that. I think this is a longer term project.
“I think for a lot of the young players in the squad a year at this level won’t do them any harm, that’s sort of what I’m getting at.
“Don’t get me wrong, we want to be successful and I’m not going to be satisfied if we finish in a certain part of the league.
“But I think it’s important that everyone is aware that this is a longer term thing. Certainly I wasn’t thinking that we’ll just go back-to-back and smash the league.
“In saying that, it is a league where you go on a run and things change very, very quickly. Anyone that can string a run of three or four wins together will move right up the league.
“I think we’re capable of doing that, but we’ve got to show that.
“When I say ‘consolidation’ it’s more of a realistic view on what we’re trying to do at the club,” he added. “It’s longer term as opposed to a short term fix.
“And I think that’s happened too often, that people have focused on the short term.
“You have to be successful in the short term but I feel, and certainly the directors and the chairman feel, that this perhaps is a longer term thing.”
In the shorter term, 17th placed Rovers host Walsall tomorrow looking for their third win in four league games.
Almost to a man, Rovers’ players believe they could - and probably should - be challenging for a top six finish this season.
“I think there is a big belief among everyone at the club,” said Ferguson. “I think we’ve got a lot of ability in our squad and I think we’ve got a lot of good players at this level.
“But it’s the consistency we need to find. If we start getting that consistency then I’m sure we’ll go from strength to strength.”