There have been the occasional flashes of form but nothing too longstanding. In fairness to them, there’s been no prolonged slumps in form where defeat has come after defeats for games on end.
Hence they go into Gentry Day at Barnsley in 16th place, lower mid-table, with 10th the highest they could climb to if both of their final two matches are won and teams around drop points.
North End go to Oakwell on the back of defeats to Fulham and Blackburn in which seven goals were shipped – six of them in the first half of the two games.
Only once this season have they lost three Championship games on the bounce – the opening three of the season to Hull City, Reading and Huddersfield Town.
So the first job in South Yorkshire will be to avoid matching that particularly grim statistic, a start to the campaign which left them playing catch-up in terms of making an impact at the right end of the table.
Just four times to date did they put back-to-back wins together in the league and never did they go beyond two wins before drawing or losing the next one.
Lowe won his first two matches in charge against Stoke and Barnsley, repeating that earlier this month when Blackpool and Queens Park Rangers were beaten at Deepdale.
Under McAvoy, North End beat Peterborough and Swansea back-to-back in August, then accounted for Luton and Bournemouth in the space of four days in the late autumn.
Their longest unbeaten run in the league this season was seven games – the Peterborough and Swansea wins followed by five draws on the spin through September.
Under Lowe, PNE went six unbeaten in January and February, bookended by the wins at West Bromwich Albion and Peterborough.
To date, Peterborough and Bournemouth are the two sides North End have done the league double over, although Barnsley and Middlesbrough next week offer further opportunities to do so.
Blackburn and Reading are the only two clubs to have done the double on PNE.
As for Gentry Day, Barnsley join QPR, Brentford and Bolton in twice being the host venue for North End’s annual day of remembrance and celebration.
The Lilywhites drew 1-1 at Oakwell in 2015 with Joe Garner finding the net.
QPR’s ground was the venue for the first two Gentry Days in 2005 and 2008, with PNE descending on Brentford’s Griffin Park two years running in 2013 and 2014.
North End won twice on Gentry Day at Bolton in 2016 and 2018.
Fans were last able to celebrate Gentry Day in person in April 2019 against West Bromwich Albion, a day which was overshadowed by Alex Neil being linked with the Baggies’ managerial vacancy.
The 2020 day was a virtual one at a time when football was suspended due to the pandemic.
Gentry Day of sorts returned on the final day of last season at Nottingham Forest behind closed doors, this weekend it returns properly despite an unnecessary early kick-off time.