Derby day at Deepdale turned into an afternoon to forget as Rovers suffered a heavy defeat at Preston North End.
A horror opening 10 minutes saw the hosts race into a two-goal lead, which they took into half time, despite Rovers having the chances to grab a goal or two back.
After the break Preston scored two more after Danny Graham had pulled one back for the visitors, but in truth it was a deserved beating for a lacklustre Rovers display.
There were returns to the starting XI for defensive trio Ryan Nyambe, Charlie Mulgrew and Derrick Williams, who will all begin the game at Deepdale.
Heading out of the side were Amari'i Bell, Jack Rodwell and Graham, who were all available from the bench for Tony Mowbray.
It was the start that Rovers really didn’t want early on as just 69 seconds into the contest the hosts took the lead.
Good work down the left from Alan Browne saw the Irishman cut the ball into the box for the onrushing Tom Barkhuizen, who kept his shot down to calmly slot into the bottom corner.
Things didn’t get any better for the visitors as Preston made it 2-0 inside the opening 10 minutes as Callum Robinson latched onto a through ball before planting past David Raya.
Rovers responded though, and Declan Rudd did excellently to get a paw on a Bradley Dack header that was sneaking into the corner before the former Norwich City man stuck out a glove.
Rovers were improving and Darragh Lenihan missed a glorious chance to pull one back as he headed a pinpoint Harrison Reed corned inches past the post at the back post.
Rudd was again alert just before the half hour mark to brilliantly tip over a trademark Mulgrew free kick as Mowbray’s men searched for a route back into the game.
Once again the PNE man was in the way when Dack went for goal inside the box. A deflection made it harder for Rudd, but he stuck out a leg to preserve his clean sheet for the time being.
Things simply had to improve in the second half, with both sides knowing at the break that the next goal would be crucial.
It was expected Graham would be on for the second half, and on he was as he replaced Richie Smallwood at half time.
And with his second touch it was Graham who got his head on a Reed free kick to beat Rudd and grab a goal back for Rovers.
Ex-Rover Paul Gallagher forced a free kick just past the post as Alex Neil’s side looked to regain their two-goal advantage.
Elliiott Bennett, who had moved into central midfield to cover for Smallwood, went for goal from range just before the hour and forced a former team-mate in Rudd to beat away his long range strike.
At the other end, the menacing Robinson shifted Nyambe to the left before seeing his effort trickle past Raya’s left-hand post.
Gallagher tested Raya from a dead ball again midway through the half, with the Spaniard keeping hold of the experienced midfielder’s drive.
Time was running out for Rovers to find a route back into the clash and those seconds would have ticked by even quicker when Preston found a third of the afternoon through substitute Moult.
The striker smashed into the roof of the net with 17 minutes remaining after a strike from Brandon Barker deflected into his path at the back post.
Rovers did find a goal back just a minute or two afterwards, but after Ben Brereton lashed into the net he saw the flag was up for offside and the score remained 3-1.
But with five minutes to go, a simple one-two between Barkhuizen and Browne, resulted in the latter adding a fourth goal with a scuffed a volley into the bottom corner, to wrap the game up and inflict more misery on the 5,614 Rovers fans who had made the trip to Deepdale.
Preston North End: Rudd, Clarke (c), Huntington, Davies, Earl, Pearson (Ledson, 82), Gallagher, Browne, Barkhuizen, Nmecha (Moult, 59), Robinson (Barker, 68).
Unused substitutes: Maxwell, Fisher, Hughes, Burke.
Goals: Barkhuizen, 2, Robinson, 10, Moult, 73, Browne, 85.
Booked: Ledson, 90.
Rovers: Raya, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Williams, Reed, Smallwood (Graham, 46), Bennett, Dack, Palmer (Brereton, 68), Armstrong (Rothwell, 65).
Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Rodwell, Bell, Conway.
Goal: Graham, 47.
Booked: Smallwood, 42, Bennett, 90.
Attendance: 19,912 (5,614 away).
Referee: A. Madley.