Last season they couldn't have been farther apart. Boro short priced favourites to win the title and return to the Premier League and Portsmouth on the brink of extinction. As it turned out, they were not so different after all in the end.
Middlesbrough with Gordon Strachan at the helm and a swath of new recruits did everything they could to get relegated before Strachan made his exit and Tony Mowbray came in to settle a sinking ship. And settle he did......Just! IN fact Boro were practically flying come the end of the season, but it was much too late.
Portsmouth on the other hand put in some amazing runs of results and flirted with the play offs before crashing form took them perilously close to the foot of the table. All of this going on whilst everything possible was being done to save the club from being wound up mid season.
Both sides have brought in new blood during the summer and Boro will be handing a debut to latest loan signing Carl Ikeme who has joined on an emergency month loan from Wolves after Jason Steel got injured.
Dave Kitson will face a late fitness test for Portsmouth, who whilst not spending huge amounts during the summer, may potentially have bought well, Luke Varny was a summer recruit and could slip into the position. Steve Coterill will be pleased that Israeli defender Tal Ben Haim is available for selection once again. He was frozen out last season due to a dispute over pay.
Portsmouth haven't done badly at the Riverside in recent seasons, the last two visits have resulted in score draws, but on this occasion Boro are taken to edge out the southerners in the opening game of the season.
Another angle valuechecker would advise in this game is to take Middlesbrough to be leading at the half time whistle. Portsmouth found themselves behind at the break. Over 70% of the goals Portsmouth scored last season, both home and away, came in the second half of games. In addition for Goals bet fans, Portsmouth games averaged only 2.46 goals per game last season. Only five teams posted a lower figure. UNDER 2.5 could also be a call.