THEY say the sign of a good side is in the way they bounce back from a poor performance. So Town's home clash with Southend United on Saturday could well show just how convincing their League I promotion credentials are.
More than 1,000 miles on the road in the space of seven days brought the full house of results, with the FA Cup win at Worcester City and the disappointing draw at MK Dons being followed by this below-par show at Ashton Gate.
In mitigation, Town were missing two of their most consistent players, centre-back Dave Mirfin and midfielder Chris Brandon, who were serving one-match bans after being sent off at Milton Keynes.
And Bristol City, who climbed off the bottom courtesy of this much welcomed win, looked a far better side than one who had lost all nine of their previous games. But there will be some concern that while Town had just as much possession as their hosts, they failed to find the net for only the second time this season.
Their afternoon was summed up when substitute John McAliskey, back from a loan spell at Torquay United and a double hernia, fluffed an open goal in the 86th minute.
With four minutes of time to be added on, Town, trailing to goals by Scott Murray (five minutes) and Dave Cotterill (80) might just have clawed back a point, but it wasn't to be. Boss Peter Jackson had emphasised in the build-up how crucial it was to make a positive start to the match.
So it was disappointing to see Bristol take the lead after only five minutes. Big Steve Brooker, who has the same physique and robust approach as John Hartson, played a neat through ball which split the Town defence.
And midfielder Murray, restored after missing the 1-0 midweek home defeat by Bradford City through illness, lashed home a left-foot shot which took a slight deflection to deceive goalkeeper Paul Rachubka.
Town had another scare a minute later when from a free-kick won by Brooker, midfielder Dave Noble curled a shot over the wall and just wide.
Jackson's side regained their composure, however, and patient build-up play brought what was to be their best chance after 12 minutes. The ball was worked out to the right, from where impressive full-back Andy Holdsworth picked out Andy Booth for a header which was tipped away for a corner by Brazilian-born goalkeeper Adriano Basso.
Booth shot too high from fellow frontman Pawel Abbott's lay-off two minutes later before Noble, on loan to Bristol from Boston United, curled a 16th-minute shot just wide after a neat back-heel by Brooker.
It was end-to-end stuff, and after Town skipper Jon Worthington's deflected shot was saved, Holdsworth did well to get in the way of Murray's 19th-minute effort. Town top scorer Abbott, busily working to add to his 12-goal haul, was unlucky when his 23rd-minute effort from Mark Hudson's pass went over.
Then a low free-kick by Danny Adams was held by Basso before Worthington fired far too high. Town had a let-off three minutes later when old boy Marcus Stewart headed too high from Cotterill's neat cross before two efforts by Abbott and a Booth header were saved by Basso.
Jackson's men badly needed a breakthrough early in the second half, but Danny Schofield was thwarted by defender Louis Carey after a fine Worthington break.
Stewart, desperate for a goal against his former employers, twice came close around the hour, first watching as his cross-cum-shot smacked against Rachubka's right-hand post, then being frustrated as Nathan Clarke blocked his goalbound shot from Murray's accurate cross.
Midfielder Adnan Ahmed, on for a first appearance of the season in place of Adams as Jackson reshuffled in a bid to unpick the Bristol defence, played a great 69th-minute through ball to Abbott, but the striker was way off target.
Then, on 73, Tony Carss was unable to utilise a potentially dangerous free-kick. And Bristol took full advantage of the let-off when Cotterill surged through a backpedalling defence to place a low shot past Rachubka.
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Man of the Match: Nathan Clarke
Yet another commanding display by Town's consistent 22-year-old.
Stood up well to the physical approach of Steve Brooker and dealt ably with the skills of Marcus Stewart.
In the 12th minute, when Andy Booth headed goalwards from Andy Holdsworth's cross only for Bristol's Brazilian-born goalkeeper Adriano Basso to stretch out an arm and tip the ball away for a corner. An equaliser at that early stage might well have blasted away the home confidence created by Scott Murray's strike.
How they rated:
Paul Rachubka Wrongfooted by a deflection for Bristol's early opener, and left cruelly exposed for the clinching second. Rating: 6/10
Andy Holdsworth Worked as hard as ever to stem the home attacks, and also caused problems for the home side with his forward play. Rating: 7/10
Danny Adams Had his hands full against the raiding Reds before being forced off on 68 minutes with a thigh strain. Rating: 6/10
Mark Hudson Workrate was decent but struggled to get a grip in the centre. Not one of his best performances. Rating: 6/10
Nathan Clarke The pick of Town's back four. Made some telling tackles and got in a crucial block to thwart Marcus Stewart. Rating: 7/10
Tom Clarke Called up in place of the suspended David Mirfin and battled gamely against Stewart and Steve Brooker. Rating: 6/10
Jon Worthington Will have been disappointed not to make more of the scoring chances which came his way. Rating: 6/10
Gary T-Fletcher Worked hard but struggled to produce the telling ball to help cut open the City defence. Came off on 64 minutes Rating: 6/10
Pawel Abbott Looked the likeliest of the Town attackers to score before being taken off in the 75th minute. Rating: 6/10
Andy Booth His presence kept Bristol's defenders on their toes and was unlucky not to score with an early header. Rating: 6/10
Danny Schofield Back from his one-match ban to replace Chris Brandon but not as effective on the left as he can be. Rating: 6/10
Town subs: Carss (for Taylor-Fletcher, 64mins), Ahmed (for Adams, 68), McAliskey (for Abbott, 75). Not used: McCombe, Senior.
Spotlight on the ref:
Hertfordshire's Mick Russell certainly let the match flow, a little too much in the first half, when Steve Brooker was allowed to trample all over Tom Clarke.
The home defenders were able to get away with quite a bit of pushing and shoving, but on balance, a decent show, and only one Town caution (Taylor-Fletcher).
Bristol City : Basso, Orr, Heywood, Carey, Woodman, Murray, Noble, Russell, Cotterill, Brooker, Stewart. Subs (not used): Phillips, J Smith, G Smith, Golbourne, Savage.