Prior to Saturday's game at Pride Park, it was widely assumed that this was a contest between two promoted sides for whom a finish anywhere above the bottom six of the Premier League could be considered beyond the realms of their imagination. With hindsight that would seem a slightly unrealistic outcome for both teams. Birmingham City have the potential to finish in the top half of the table, while Derby, bottom after four games, have the look of a side getting settled in for a long, hard winter.
The club are under no illusions, however, and after Saturday's defeat – their third in a row – the Derby manager, Billy Davies, spoke of the great chasm that exists, not just between the promoted clubs and the rest, but within the promoted clubs themselves.
Both Birmingham and Sunderland, who, along with Derby, came up from the Championship last season, have been in the Premier League in recent years and have used the money they have earned to rebuild their squads after relegation.
Davies claims that the "facts are there for everybody to see. We are very much behind a number of other clubs, particularly the ones who have been promoted.
"But then you go above the ones who have been promoted like the Manchester Citys, like the Portsmouths, like the Evertons. And then you can go above that again to the Chelseas, Liverpools, Arsenals and Manchester Uniteds."
Unfortunately for Davies and Derby, the divisions within the division would appear to leave his side in their own league of one at the bottom of the table.
They urgently need to add some class to a desperately average team before the transfer window closes at midnight on Friday, which is something Davies is well aware of. "We've got to add to the squad and introduce more quality into the team," he admitted, before adding, "I would expect a number of things to happen this week."
Matt Oakley, the Derby captain and one of the few players in the home side to have much Premier League experience, backed up his manager. "Once we get through this [transfer] window and settle down and work on things, once we get that first win, we will be up and running," he said.
Oakley scored Derby's equaliser on Saturday after Cameron Jerome had given Birmingham the lead after just 32 seconds. The visitors should have been out of sight by the time Oakley equalised in the 51st minute, but made up for it when Jerome volleyed the winner just after the hour.
Oakley came close to an undeserved last -equaliser when his 25-yard shot was brilliantly saved by Maik Taylor in the Birmingham goal.
The Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce, paid tribute to Jerome by saying he "has never played or worked with anyone with such raw pace and power."
Bruce also hopes to have added some new personnel by the weekend – they have been linked with Atletico Madrid's midfielder Peter Luccin – but his side, prompted by the excellent Johan Djourou in midfield, are in less need of it than Derby. For Davies, what happens this week will make or break his season.Reuse content