There is nothing to separate Middlesbrough and Coventry after they played out a goalless draw at the CBS Arena on Sunday.
Playoff matches are high stakes occasions and there was evidence of the tension affecting some of the Coventry and players during Sunday's poor quality 0-0 draw at the CBS Arena.
The result leaves nothing settled but Middlesbrough are in a stronger position due to their general excellence on home soil.
Boro have sustained just one home league defeat under Michael Carrick and that was a 2-1 reverse against champions Burnley.
However, Coventry are approaching the second leg on an eight-match unbeaten run and they will take heart from the recent 1-1 draw at the Riverside in their final fixture of the regular season.
Middlesbrough have won 10 of 14 home games since appointing Michael Carrick in October and they look solid favourites to see off Coventry in their playoff semi-final, second leg.
There is greater expectation on the home side, who are favourites to get the job done in normal time, but Carrick’s side are highly likely to play with far greater intensity and tempo than was seen in Sunday's drab draw in the West Midlands.
Coventry's only previous involvement in the playoffs was in 2017-18 when they won promotion from League Two.
Mark Robins was in charge at the time and might choose to look back on the semi-final tie against Notts County as a positive omen because Coventry were held to a 1-1 draw in their home leg before winning the return match 4-1 at Meadow Lane.
Robins has been keen to take the pressure off his players and has emphasized that they have already performed miracles to ensure an extended season.
However, if the idea was to release the shackles and get the team playing with freedom, it certainly didn't go to plan.
Coventry failed to register a shot on target at the weekend and their 21-goal striker, Viktor Gyokeres, was frequently denied time and space by a disciplined Boro backline.
There were one or two chances created at the other end and Boro will probably feel that they should have their noses in front.
Carrick’s charges are highly likely to deliver a more vibrant performance in front of a large home crowd and they should show enough quality to advance to the final with victory at 10/11.
Middlesbrough managed just two shots on target in the first leg but they are worth backing to register two or more goals at the Riverside, where they are usually a much more potent force.
Carrick's side were carrying a few injuries going into the first leg and would have always felt that they could improve as the playoffs progressed.
Marcus Forss returned from a layoff to feature as a second half substitute at the CBS Arena, and his possible elevation to the starting eleven would give the home side an added attacking threat.
Forss netted 10 league goals this season but is just one of three Boro players to reach double figures alongside Cameron Archer (11) and Chuba Akpom (28).
Boro's variety of attacking threats go a long way to explaining how they managed to register 84 league goals, just three fewer than Burnley, who were the division's top scorers.
Over the course of the season Middlesbrough averaged exactly two goals per home league game. But they were far more effective under Carrick, scoring 36 goals in 14 home games which equates to a ratio of 2.57 goals per game.
Coventry have kept Middlesbrough fairly quiet in the two recent matches, but Boro should have another big performance in their locker and their firepower may be simply too much for the Sky Blues to handle. Back Boro to score over 1.5 goals at .
Middlesbrough's on loan Aston Villa striker Cameron Archer was forced to feed off scraps for the majority of Sunday's first leg, but he is likely to have far greater involvement at the Riverside and looks an attractive 2/1 shot to get on the scoresheet.
Archer impressed while on a loan spell at Preston last season and was widely expected to hit the ground running after signing on a half-season loan deal with the Teessiders.
He soon showed his quality with a superb double in Boro's February 3-1 success away to Sheffield United and has delivered on consistent basis during the run-in, netting five goals in his last five league appearances.