It was slightly different in that those nicknames / monikers tended to come about naturally e.g. Swinton Lions after the lions pub or the need to differentiate themselves from other sides like Rochdale FC / RFC (don't know which). They weren't created with the thought of flogging T-shirts or creating mascots. City Reds has that feel even if it was adopted in 1998.
I'm not against the SL style nicknames but most of them have little thought behind them, it is just a case of looking up a synonym for "soldier" or the name of a large animal. The best ones were those that came via fan polls.
No idea how Fev ended up as Rovers but I like it.
Taken from the Hornets' Centenary Booklet:-
The first meeting of the Hornets' Football Club was held on 20 April 1871 at the Roebuck Hotel, when the title was fixed upon.
There was much discussion as to a name for the club at the 1871 meeting. Rochdale Wasps, Rochdale Butterflies, Rochdale Grasshoppers were first suggested, but "at last some enlightened individual proposed a name that took their fancy more, Rochdale Hornets, and Hornets it has been ever since."
So, as artificial a name as any of the more modern ones created by a club's board of directors; it just seems traditional because of the length of time it's been around. And, in a late 19th and early 20th century context, it will have been used in marketing.