Birmingham City cross paths with Steve Bruce once again this Saturday on their visit to Sunderland.
And they do so in a position of strength, which most observers felt wouldn’t be the case at the season’s start.
Armed by a substantial transfer war chest, ex-Blues boss Bruce had designs on propelling the Black Cats towards the top echelons of the Premier League.
Instead he has had to arrest a slide towards the lower reaches of the table and a relegation battle.
And only now do they appear to have come out of a slump that started, ironically, when Blues won the St Andrew’s fixture 2-1 in October.
Sunderland went 14 games without a win and Bruce, Blues longest-serving post-war manager, came under severe pressure on Wearside.
No such worries for his successor, Alex McLeish, of course.
Blues are in eighth position. They have an outside chance of Europa League qualification and are keen to secure their best league standing since Arthur Turner’s FA Cup finalists of 1955-56 finished in sixth place.
Sunderland are likely to be without £15 million-rated Kenwyne Jones, who injured his hip after scoring in the 1-1 draw against Manchester City. McLeish made an offer of £11 million for Jones during the January transfer window and after initial encouragement, Sunderland then went cold on the transfer.
Jones’s wage demands also meant that Blues opted to look elsewhere.