Manchester City limped to a third place finish in the Premier League last time out following a hit and miss first season under Pep Guardiola.
While the knives were sharpened in some quarters, most were happy to give the Spaniard a pass as he set about regenerating an aging playing group.
A number of new signings have come in this summer, and City’s transfer dealings have made people sit up and take note.
You can get healthy odds on City winning the league this year thanks to this offer with Betfair, but having such a strong squad on paper doesn’t necessarily translate to results on the pitch.
Willy Caballero, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Jesus Navas, Bacary Sagna, Nolito, Aleksandar Kolarov, Fernando and Kelechi Iheanacho have all left permanently, while Joe Hart will against spend a season away from the club on loan.
In their place, City have spent huge amounts of money on goalkeeper Ederson, full backs Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy, and the “new David Silva” from AS Monaco, Bernardo Silva.
They have certainly looked the good in preseason, with the 3-0 demolition of Tottenham Hotspur the highlight of their US Tour.
Brazilian Gabriel Jesus looks to be well over the injury that kept him out for a long spell during his debut Premier League season, while Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling look ready to terrorise defences.
It’s all very exciting going forward, but there’s something very Kevin Keegan (“if they score four, we’ll score five”) about the makeup of Guardiola’s squad.
At the base of the midfield, 34-year-old Yaya Toure is not the towering presence he once was, while Ilkay Gundogan is coming off yet another long-term injury and won’t be fit for probably the first month of the season.
If you rule out the perennially injured Fabian Delph as an option, you are left 32-year-old Fernandinho.
Admittedly, Danilo, the natural full back acquired from Real Madrid, can also play in midfield, probably in a similar way to how Pablo Zabaleta filled in when required.
Still, you can’t help but feel that City are an N’golo Kante short in the middle of the park.
At the back, Guardiola has experimented with a three-man central defence in pre-season, and it has worked very well.
John Stones has looked much more accomplished, while helping himself to a couple of goals, and Nicholas Otamendi will get the nod over Eliaqium Mangala who is back at the club, for now at least.
The shadow of doubt continues to hang over skipper Vincent Kompany, however, and if he can’t stay fit then City are in trouble.
New goalkeeper Ederson looks a much more commanding presence than Claudio Bravo did last year but it’s also the 23-year-old’s first season in English football so he will need time to adjust.
City can’t afford a transition year while they sort out the squad so the new pick ups need to hit the ground running when they begin their Premier League campaign against newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend.