Since the disheartening defeat against Burnley last month Ryan Lowe suggested that he would be judged on the handful of games following the disaster at Turf Moor.
In reality Lowe was determining the narrative by suggesting he should be assessed against teams who were largely not competing in the top six positions. This is where the ambition of the manager currently lies - a midtable man to match the ambition of his employers.
In fairness the football improved slighty over the past month although it couldn't have deteriorated much further. Preston reverted to the early season form of keeping clean sheets whilst Cannon was able to convert some of the rare chances that came his way thus securing Champiosnhip football for another season.
Any small progress was halted as Preston were overshadowed against a bouyant Middlesbrough side. It seems Preston have given up hope of a top six place long ago and even if they did make the play offs there are ready made excuses in waiting especially as Saturday's opposition sit third in the table.
The issue is that this season is one of average quality throughout the division and not much separates the play off teams to the lower end of the table. Middlesbrough are a case in point as they have moved dramtically up the table over the past few months.
North End often point to teams having greater financial resources but this season it is just a case of teams being managed better such as Luton and Millwall who are comparable in budget terms to North End.
Everybody knows that Preston cannot afford to throw money at big signings and it is therefore down to a good coach to improve the squad year on year. This season, like last, simply comes down to a game against Blackpool at Deepdale with little else to play for before the season wraps up in aroun six weeks.