But now the play-offs have come around, Pompey, Sunderland, Charlton and Doncaster have the ticket firmly clutched in the hand.
Champions Luton and runners-up Barnsley secured promotion from League One after the Blues’ 3-2 defeat at the hands of Peterborough.
It means just one spot in the Championship next season is up for grabs.
The play-offs have thrown up plenty of surprises in the past.
There will be plenty of punters who fancy having a bet on who will prevail at Wembley on Sunday, May 26.
And the bookies are finding it difficult to separate Pompey, Sunderland and Charlton in the market.
Jackett’s men and the Addicks finished level on 88 points in the table, with Lee Bowyer’s side clinch third with a better goal difference of one.
The Black Cats, meanwhile, claimed fifth spot on 85 points after suffering a final-day defeat at Southend.
All three sides are closely priced up in the betting, which suggests we’re in for some tight games over the next coming weeks.
The Blues meet Jack Ross’ men in the semi-final, while Charlton place sixth-place Doncaster.
Firms William Hill, BetVictor and Boylesports have Pompey, Sunderland and the Addicks all as short as 9/4 to reach the Championship.
However, Ladbrokes have Bowyer’s troops as slight 9/4 favourites, with the Blues and the Black Cats both 5/2.
But Betfair have placed Charlton as the outsider at 12/5 with Jackett’s men and Sunderland installed at 23/10.
Sky Bet believe that it’s Pompey who have the smallest chance of the trio to be promoted, though.
They’re priced at 5/2, slightly shorter than Charlton and Ross’ side who are 9/4.
Doncaster, who welcome the Addicks to The Valley for the semi-final first leg on Sunday, are worst-priced 3/1 with Sky Bet.
Grant McCann’s side are as big as 5/1 with 888sport, 10Bet and SportPesa, however.