The ballooned nature of cross-field transport is shown to govern the steady state divertor imbalance of the energy flux leading to a factor 10 between the low field side and high field energy flux. An even stronger ratio is found for the divertor temperatures. Conversely the particle flux is expected to be a factor 10 larger on the high field side than on the low field side. The transition to detachment, close to divertor thermal collapse, exhibits several constraints to maintain steady state solutions. These constraints, related in particular to a large drop of the divertor density upon detachment, are shown to strongly correlate the pressure and particle flux variation along the field line and consequently the various loss channels. This delicate balance between different mechanisms is a possible understanding of the difficulty reported in detached plasma operation and simulation.