From the very first game of the campaign, boss Billy Davies was on the defensive about the notion that he had spent big in the summer.
Speaking after the 0-0 draw with Reading he was at pains to point out the lack of options available to him, especially in defence.
"We have done brilliantly in terms of strengthening the middle and front of the team, but we still have a squad of only 21 players and there are other clubs in this division with 30 or 31 players," lamented the Scot.
"So I do laugh when I hear about 'big-spending' Nottingham Forest this summer.
"The fact is we have only spent because of our complete inactivity in January (2009)."
Davies' refrain has stayed the same throughout the season, reinforced in his view by another January transfer window passing the club by.
Yet in their post-match reactions, a number of opposing managers have made reference to the spending power of the team they had just faced.
And confirmation of how others see the Reds came from John Ryan, chairman of Doncaster Rovers, speaking to the BBC about what he sees as growing inequality in the Championship.
"It's skewed enough as it is," he said of the division.
"Look at the table with Newcastle and West Brom at the top. Newcastle's wage bill is £42m and our's is £6m.
"We are competing because we have a great manager, as do Swansea while Nottm Forest have spent a fortune."