Something quite startling happened at the Keepmoat last weekend – and it was not Rovers suffering a third straight defeat.
It was the reaction to the loss to Exeter City which was rather shocking.
Yes, the defeat had continued a disappointing decline from Rovers, one which has in all likelihood cost them the opportunity to win a league title which they have long seemed to have an iron grip upon.
But a hostile reaction laid bare a disappointing lack of perspective.
Fans departed in their droves following Exeter’s late third goal. A minority remained for what became a rather embarrassing customary end of season lap of honour.
Putting it bluntly, it felt like 12 months ago. When Rovers were relegated.
That Rovers no longer had the title in their hands after four months of doing so was incredibly disappointing. Take a look at Darren Ferguson’s post-match press debrief if you need any evidence of that.
But it really should not be so disappointing that it eclipses everything which Rovers have achieved this season.
They have been promoted, not relegated. And, regardless of everything else, they should be celebrated for that.
They have bounced back from an unthinkable relegation at the first attempt. Only five of the last 41 clubs to have been relegated have done that.
Ferguson and his squad have battled through horrendous injury problems all season. Not only have they coped, they’ve thrived.
They’ve dealt with the pressure of being the big dog in the division with such little fuss, it has been at times frightening.
Rovers dominated League Two for eight of the nine months of the season.
They have consistently played the best football in the division. And consistently the best football Rovers as a club have played since Sean O’Driscoll was in charge.
They have out-scored every other team by at least 11 goals. Five players have reached double figures. John Marquis is the division’s joint-top scorer heading into the final game.
All of this is why in next week’s Free Press, title or no title, we will dedicate 16 pages to celebrating Rovers’ promotion.
Emotions were raw last week. That was clear and, in some ways, understandable.
But it is ludicrous to remember the 2016/17 season for the four games Rovers have played since winning promotion.
Yes they have let slip a great opportunity to be crowned champions but the ultimate goal has been achieved – and in some style.
Seasons like this do not come around very often and they should be appreciated and cherished.
So whatever happens this weekend in Hartlepool and Grimsby, make sure you show your thanks for what you have been privileged to watch this season.