Eintracht Frankfurt were one of the revelations of the 2018/19 season, recovering from a rocky start under new coach Adi Hütter to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals – and very nearly the final – while threatening a top-four Bundesliga finish, but can they do the same this term without their famed former threesome of Luka Jovic, Sebastian Haller and Ante Rebic?
Jovic, Haller and Rebic supplied 17, 15 and nine Bundesliga goals respectively last season – 68 per cent of the club's total of 60 - as part of an attacking trio that was the envy of the continent.
However, the group has now disbanded. Jovic has signed for Real Madrid, Haller left for West Ham United and Rebic has gone on loan to AC Milan. It meant Hütter's hopes of emulating a spectacular first season at the Commerzbank-Arena suffered a big setback, but he did not grumble. Instead, he set to work unearthing more gems to fill the void.
Watch: Frankfurt's deadly 2018/19 attacking trio
In Portuguese forward Goncalo Paciencia, he already had one he had groomed in the latter stages of last season, while he once again looked to the Balkans to find Dejan Joveljic – close not only in name to the man he is designated to replace.
The 19-year-old Serbian striker was not only born in the same Bijeljina city as Jovic, he also cut his teeth at Red Star Belgrade. Now, he will be expected to add to the eight goals in 17 Serbian league games last season by assuming Jovic's share of the goalscoring duties in Frankfurt this term.
Yet the Eintracht planning committee was not done there. With a second consecutive Europa League campaign secured thanks to progression through three qualifying rounds, Frankfurt are looking to go one better with a new attacking quartet.
In Bas Dost, Hütter has his target man back and a player with previous Bundesliga experience. After 37 goals in 86 league games for Wolfsburg, the big Dutchman is back from a goal-filled spell in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon (76 in 84 Liga NOS games).
Days after that arrival, Frankfurt then announced the signing of European champion Andre Silva on a two-year loan from Milan as part of a swap with Rebic.
Prior to deals for the latter pair, Joveljic and Paciencia had shown early signs that they could recompose Frankfurt's exciting attacking triumvirate with Rebic.
Paciencia scored a hat-trick in Eintracht's first summer workout, a comfortable 14-0 win over Homberg in early July. He came on for Haller at half-time in a symbolic passing of the baton, with the French forward leaving the club just days later.
"It's certainly a big loss for us," admitted Paciencia on the club's website. "He's one of the best forwards I've ever played with and we're bound to miss him, but we've got enough quality in the team to compensate. It may give me more of a chance to prove myself too. Dejan's joined us and we've got Ante, and both are fantastic players who work hard."
Paciencia then partnered Rebic in a 5-1 defeat to Hütter's former club Young Boys, who were already approaching full league action mode, with Joveljic netting the consolation on his debut. Paciencia subsequently struck his fourth goal of pre-season in a 3-1 win over FC Luzern, with Joveljic partnering the Portuguese forward in the second half and very nearly adding a fourth late on.
A 7-0 win over FC Wels then saw another Paciencia hat-trick and a brace from Joveljic, his half-time replacement, before Frankfurt forgot the friendlies and focused on Europa League qualifying, with Joveljic marking his first competitive appearance for the club by scoring the winner in a 2-1 win at Flora Tallinn.
"He's still young but he's incredibly hungry," said Frankfurt's sporting director Fredi Bobic of the young Serbian. "You can see that in his eyes. He's really looking forward to playing in the Bundesliga and he's looking mature. I'm sure he'll be a quick learner."
A week later, Paciencia struck twice in the return leg against Flora – his first of five goals from 10 early-season competitive outings – with Joveljic his strike partner from the outset.
As the newcomer, however, the Serbian has been eased into life with Frankfurt. Since that goalscoring debut he has completed 90 minutes just twice. By means of comparison, Jovic scored one goal and played 90 minutes just once in his first eight appearances.
And Dost wasn’t going to miss out on the debut-goal party either. Just 12 minutes after coming off the bench he had Frankfurt level before his one of his new partners, Paciencia, struck a late winner in the 2-1 triumph over Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Now add to that Paciencia’s compatriot Silva. The 23-year-old has 15 goals in 33 appearances for Portugal, showing what he is capable of on the biggest stage despite tough spells in Italy’s Serie A with Milan and Spain’s La Liga with Sevilla. Like Jovic and Rebic’s linguistic bond, Portuguese duo Silva and Paciencia could prove helpful to one another, too.
With Joveljic, Paciencia and Dost already firing, Silva to come into the mix, it would appear Frankfurt have ample firepower for their attack on three front in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Europa League. Yet there is even more waiting in the wings.
Attacking midfielder Daichi Kamada has returned from his loan spell at Sint-Truiden a seemingly new player and has featured in all 10 competitive matches this season. Filip Kostic, Mijat Gacinovic, Danny da Costa and another summer signing, Djibril Sow, provide further support and mean Hütter's headache at seeing Jovic, Haller and Rebic leave has lessened significantly.
The Austrian coach appears to have found the ammunition to sustain another successful campaign at home and abroad.