IT WAS some promotion party at Bramall Lane on Monday. Just as we all knew it would be.


The lap of honour, the obligatory pitch invasion and the booming blast of “We are the Champions” as the PA man ramped up the mood.


City knew their place on the afternoon of Sheffield United’s coronation.


Some will say that their welcoming tribute to the home side continued right through the first half; clapping the Blades on to the pitch and then ushering them into the penalty area at alarmingly regular intervals.


In the bigger picture, a chastening loss wrapped up inside 45 minutes should have no impact on City’s place in the play-offs.


As Stuart McCall pointed out, they began Monday needing four points to make sure, finished the game still needing four – and then ended the day just one adrift after kind results elsewhere.


That goal should be achieved against Wimbledon and it would be a fitting way to mark a season unbeaten at Valley Parade.


A total of 23 games without defeat on home turf is a mightily impressive record, even given that just over half of them have finished in draws.


City, as any player will tell you, should fear nobody in the play-offs on their own patch.


But the Bramall Lane beating did once again highlight a potential Achilles heel threatening City’s charge towards the line.


Their record against fellow promotion-chasers remains the poorest of the bunch by some distance.


In the 12 games facing the other sides in the top six plus seventh-placed Southend, McCall’s men have won only once against Fleetwood.


They have lost four of the six away trips – three of those by letting in three.


City’s defence, the third-tightest in the division, have only conceded twice or more on nine occasions in 44 games. Six of those have come against the teams immediately around them.


The Bantams’ overall ratio stands at 0.95 goals conceded per game. Against the top seven, that jumps to 1.7.


Compare their big-game form with those around them.


City have picked up ten points from a possible 36. Bolton, in contrast, have pocketed 24 from the same schedule.


Phil Parkinson’s side may be currently wobbling their way to the second automatic spot. But if they do manage to cling on – and they are still firm favourites to just about hold off Fleetwood’s late surge – the seven wins against their closest rivals will have been key.


“Parky, what’s the score,” was the Kop taunt that came back to haunt them when Bolton clambered off the floor to snatch the unlikeliest of points at Valley Parade in February.


That result, and the subsequent loss at Fleetwood, will stand out as the biggest missed opportunities when the dust settles on City’s campaign. If, buts and “how the hecks”…


For Bolton, the draw with City was another example of digging out something when it was least expected.


Add to that last-gasp winners against Scunthorpe and at Southend last month. Maybe even the opening-day win over Sheffield United, when they barely got a sniff of the ball up to half-time.


Whatever is said about Bolton’s style of play, and plenty has been, they have got the job done against those “there or thereabouts”.


Fleetwood come closest to matching Bolton’s form in the mini-league but they are still six points behind on 18.


Champions Sheffield United and Scunthorpe have collected 16 points from four wins and four draws, Southend 15 and Millwall 14.


The stats may spell out City’s shortcomings – but don’t tell the full story.


Anyone who has watched the games concerned will know the outcome has not always matched what they have witnessed.


Leaking three in one half on Monday was a shock. That was a first.


But think back to Valentine’s night at Fleetwood and the shot-fest at Scunthorpe where City were the much better side on both counts.


Even the other 3-0 loss at Southend had its mitigating moments of decent away pressure.


McCall knows there is work to be done as and when the play-offs are secured. The approach, particularly away, may not be as expansive.


But the margins are tight and it would be foolish to suggest City cannot turn the form tables when it really matters.