Depending on whose perspective you are looking at this match from, what a difference a few months can make.
Both these sides went into the lockdown off the back of poor runs of form that meant you could understand questions being asked of their play-off chasing credentials, despite their positions just a matter of points adrift of the top-six.
Here however, it was Blackburn and not Bristol City who looked like rejuvenating those hopes in the sprint finish to come over the next few weeks. Tony Mowbray’s men started the brighter, responded immediately after going behind, and were then ruthless in taking their chances in the second-half to turn things in their favour, in short, not far off the perfect performance.
By contrast, a bright few minutes when they took the lead part-way through the first half aside, Bristol City appeared somewhat lacking in ideas, and worryingly for them, rarely failed Christian Walton in the Blackburn goal, leaving Lee Johnson with plenty to mull over, not least a duo of league defeats to Rovers this season.
After so long without competitive action, slow starts have been a feature of many of these first games, and that was no difference here, with a distinct lack of chances during the opening exchanges.
It would be Blackburn who did have the first opportunity on the quarter-hour mark, Elliott Bennett firing straight at Bristol City ‘keeper Daniel Bentley from the edge of the area after some excellent work on the left wing by Ben Brereton.
For their part, the hosts were winning a number of free-kicks in dangerous areas, but with Stewart Downing failing to find the right delivery, a change of taker almost paid dividends some 20 minutes in, as Darragh Lenihan headed over Bennett’s pinpoint ball into the visitor’s penalty area.
Then, just as the game passed the half-hour mark, the match would spark into life, with both sides trading telling blows.
First, Jamie Paterson – who moments earlier had fired a rare Bristol City effort way off target – headed the visitors ahead from Tommy Rowe’s cross, with Walton only able to parry the ball onto the post, from which it bounced over the line and into the net.
Rovers however, would respond almost instantly, albeit somewhat fortuitously, as a Corry Evans cross from deep into the area managed to evade everyone – including Bentley and a stretching Sam Gallagher – inside the box, sneaking in at the far post to give the Northern Ireland international his first league goal since November 2015, on his first competitive appearance since fracturing his skull in a draw with Preston in January.
That was enough to see both sides level at half time, and after the interval, the hosts should have taken the lead through some more good fortune, a week backpass from Tomas Kalas finding Brereton, but having rounded Bentley, the goal-shy striker then proceeded to slip with an empty net at his mercy.
For a minute after, it seemed as though it would matter little to Rovers, as Bentley spilt the resulting corner at the feet of Joe Rankin-Costello who fired home, only for the young stand-in left-back to be denied a first senior goal by the referee’s whistle with Bristol City duo Famara Diedhiou and Nathan Baker both on the deck.
Sam Gallagher then headed over at the back post from a Stewart Downing cross with the hosts continuing to press, while at the other end, Diedhiou was surely denied a goal by a brilliant block from Corry Evans, as a frantic opening ten minutes of the second half delivered almost as much action as the whole of the first.
Then, exactly an hour into the game, the goal that had been coming since the interval arrived, and in spectacular fashion.
A free-kick sent into the Bristol City area wasn’t properly cleared by the visitors, and fell to Tosin Adarabioyo on the edge of the area, where the Manchester City loanee belied his produced a far from proverbial centre back’s finish, curling a stunning effort into the far corner of Bentley’s goal to complete the turnaround for the hosts.
Having taken the lead, it seemed Rovers were in no mood to keep their lead at one, as Tony Mowbray completely changing his front three, sending on Dominic Samuel, Danny Graham and top-scorer Adam Armstrong, with the latter two combining instantly to go close, Graham playing Armstrong in after winning the ball, only for the attacker to fire over.
Minutes later, Armstrong would make no mistake.
Bristol City substitute Jack Hunt scrambled to keep the ball in on the near touchline, but all that did was allow that man Evans to pounce and play Armstrong through, who this time went low into the bottom corner to give Rovers a two-goal lead with 20 minutes remaining.
While Bristol City looked for an equaliser, it was Blackburn who went closer to extending their lead as the match entered its final five minutes, as Samuel played in Armstrong on the counter-attack, only for a brilliant block from Kalas to deny the forward his second and Rovers’ fourth.
Ultimately however, three would be enough for Blackburn in the battle of these top-six hopefuls, with results elsewhere meaning Mowbray’s men are now just a point off the top-six, making this a huge result for Rovers in their play-offs hopes, and given they started the day two points ahead of their hosts, just as big an opportunity missed for Bristol City.