State of play: The Championship produces some surprise promotions. Cardiff are a case in point: 23rd when Neil Warnock was appointed in October 2016, they recorded the best start in their history last season and then embarked on an outstanding run in February and March.
Whereas Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham brought plenty of appeal to the purists in their promotion campaigns, Cardiff were much more pragmatic.
They are likely to be direct again as they bid to stay in the top flight for the first time since 1961.
With Chelsea, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs in their final seven games, they could do with getting enough points before the relegation run-in.
Key player: Junior Hoilett – A player wanted by Liverpool and Everton lost his way after making the disastrous decision to join Queens Park Rangers.
Yet he was revived by Warnock and was pivotal in promotion, bringing flair to a team that does not possess it in huge quantities. He has the potential to be match-winner again.
Manager: Neil Warnock – He turns 70 in December and set a new English record with his eighth promotion last season. Yet while the controversial veteran is a specialist at getting teams up, he has never kept one up in the top flight. This has the feel of a last chance to answer one criticism.
Talking point: Will Championship players prosper in the Premier League? Warnock has been defined by his exploits in the Championship and has recruited from his old stomping ground in QPR goalkeeper Alex Smithies, Preston defender Greg Cunningham and Norwich's £11 million (Dh52.4m) winger Josh Murphy.
The most intriguing case is of Bobby Reid, an unproductive midfielder until he scored 21 goals as a striker for Bristol City last season. Will he prove a one-season wonder or a prolific Premier League player?
Cardiff, short of natural scorers, surely need Reid to be the latter if they are to confound expectations for a second successive year.