Talk about a timely result. It may have taken extra time to squeeze past lower league opposition but it was crucial.
Not just to make progress in the cup and bounce back from the first defeat of the season. And not just to show that Boro could come from behind.
The fight-back that made the Brewers drop was the first time in just over a year that Aitor Karanka’s side had clawed back a deficit – the last occasion was at Bolton 12 months ago this week, a hard-fought 2-1 win. All that is great but it was routine box-ticking.
The real result on the night was that it helped settle the nerves of Teesside’s more nervous faction of fans.
This past week there has been a toxic feel to the always intense bubble around Boro.
Not so long ago everyone was celebrating Karanka’s new deal as the best Boro signing of the summer.
But after a stuttering start to the season that optimism has started to ebb away and in the past week faith has faltered, morale has wobbled and pointed questions have been asked about the signings and the dynamics of the dugout.
So Boro really needed a result to relieve the pressure.
A defeat would have seen mounting tempers boil over.
So phew. Job done.
There was a fevered atmosphere long before Boro fans had even set off from Teesside with the rumour mill buzzing with Apocalyptic fury over “the Albert Adomah” situation.
He was said to have demanded a transfer, was being courted by a string of big clubs and was simmering after a bust-up with the boss.
When it was learned that he hadn’t travelled it stoked up the terrace temperature and the pre-match mood was fragile.
Not just over Adomah’s absence. Another current narrative is Aitor Karanka’s tendency to ‘tinker’.
He tinkered last year on his way to 85 points and the play-off final at Wembley but the mood has darkened of late and so seven changes at Burton fed into that current concern.
But all the chatter was about Albert and how it would play out.
A senior club source had earlier admitted to the Gazette the pair had an exchange but insisted it was “one of those things,” it showed he was hurt at losing and that he was still a valued member of the squad.
But his absence at Burton stirred up the fevered speculation once more.
The team had stayed at the England HQ at St George’s Park overnight but Adomah wasn’t included in the party.
Fans’ favourite Adomah – one of Boro’s best performers last term – was widely said to have had been smarting after an exchange with the gaffer following the late lapse in the Derby game.
The manager is understood to have blasted the team after the chain of errors that led to the Rams grabbing a sickening late equaliser and the winger is said to have bit back.
He was left on the bench until late in the game against his former team Bristol City on Saturday and at that point it was probably fair to describe their Facebook relationship status as “strained.”
But he was at least included on the bench. When Muzzy Carayol stepped out of line with “a bad attitude” he was given an on-air tongue lashing and put into internal exile and found himself training with the kids for a spell.
The situation is strange because both parties have eager to heap lavish praise on each other this this season.
Adomah was handed the armband for the Oldham game and afterwards gushed about his improvement under Aitor and his evolution as a more rounded and disciplined team player.
And in the press conference before the Bristol game – and after the ‘flare-up’ – Aitor reciprocated and said he was “perfect” to work with and that he “came here as a player and is now a leader.”
Hardly the snarling and sniping you would expect after a row.
But with some sections of the Teesside crowd already jittery after the stodgy start – the cyberspace mood music all summer has been frantic – ‘AlbertGate’ nudged it close to hysterical with a heady cocktail of fear at a rumoured exit of a key player and pre-emptive finger-pointing.
Boro had started the season with one defeat in five but only one league win in five – and if you squint you can view that from any perspective and see whatever you want.
This result will make things appear just that little bit better.
****SORRY there was no pre-match predictions blog but I was left holding the baby. Domestic balls needed juggling. Won’t happen again guv, honest.