With the 2014/15 Bundesliga 2 campaign kicking off this coming weekend, bundesliga.com has duly cobbled together an array of little-known facts about the top tier's frightfully entertaining baby brother...
To start with, Bundesliga 2 was made up of two 20-team divisions - northern and southern - until eventually being condensed into one league in 1981. German reunification nine years later saw the league briefly expand to accommodate clubs from the former German Democratic Republic, with the current 18-team, single division format rolled out in 1992/93. Not including newly promoted 1. FC Heidenheim and RB Leipzig, the second tier has so far welcomed a total of 121 clubs through its doors.
Deciding who goes up and who goes down is straightforward enough. The top two are automatically promoted to the top tier, with the division's third-placed outfit fighting it out over two legs with 16th in the Bundesliga. That was the the case from 1974 right the way through to 1991, after which the third-placed club earned direct promotion, until the reintroduction of the play-off rule in 2008. There's no escaping the drop for the bottom two, meanwhile, with the 16th-placed team running the play-off gauntlet against third in 3. Liga.
Willi Landgraf holds the record for most Bundesliga 2 appearances, but despite turning out 508 times in Germany's second tier during spells at Rot-Weiss Essen, FC Homburg, FC Gütersloh and Alemannia Aachen, the Mülheim native never made it to the Bundesliga. Aachen, incidentally the diminutive defender's last port of call before moving to FC Schalke 04's reserves in 2006 account for more second division games than any other outfit (1020 in 28 years).
Landgraf's first stop on the Bundesliga 2 train, Rot-Weiss Essen, was also home to the division's record single-season leading marksman Horst Hrubesch (pictured). The Germany midfielder bagged a staggering 41 goals during the 1977/78 campaign, with the northern tier's second-placed club losing out in the promotion play-off to southern representatives 1. FC Nürnberg. The award for the all-time Bundesliga 2 top scorer, meanwhile, goes to Dieter Schatzschneider (153 goals).
Speaking of records, no team has earned promotion from Bundesliga 2 anywhere near as often as Franconian favourites Nürnberg (1978, 1980, 1985, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2009) or lifted as many league titles (four). Then again, no side has ever been relegated from the Bundesliga as often as the slip-sliding Club, who kick-start their record eighth season in the division against FC Erzgebirge Aue at the Gründig Stadion on Sunday, 3 August (kick-off 14:30 BST/ 15:30 CET).
At the other end of the scale, meanwhile, take a moment to spare a thought for poor, old Spandauer SV. Having witnessed near-neighbours SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin amass a record-low eight points from a possible 68 during the 1965/66 Bundesliga campaign, the capital minnows endured statistical ignominy of their own ten years later, losing 32 of their 38 Bundesliga 2 outings. Unsurprisingly, Spandauer spent the entire season rooted to the foot of the standings.
Swiftly moving on along a similar stat-laden line of enquiry, Hans Wulf holds the record for the most career goals conceded by any Bundesliga 2 custodian. The last line of defence for the likes of Schwarz-Weiss Essen and KSV Hessen Kassel during a 15-year stay in Germany's second division, the Essen-born stopper witnessed no less than 571 efforts evade his grasp in 440 Bundesliga 2 appearances.
Oodles of wannabe Bundesliga goalscorers have earned their corn in Bundesliga 2, Horst Hrubesch included. None made quite such an impact at both levels, however, as Bruno Labbadia (pictured), who helped himself to 103 goals at Germany's top table as well as a cool 100 in the second division. No less emphatic, on 13 May 1977, recently retired coaching legend Ottmar Hitzfeld registered a league-high six goals in VfB Stuttgart's 8-0 win over SSV Jahn Regensburg.
Continuing our nostalgic stroll down memory lane, Stuttgart pop up once again as one half of the the most well-attended encounters in Bundesliga 2 history. Trailing league leaders TSV 1860 Munich by two points going into Matchday 32 of the 1976/77 campaign, the Swabians travelled to the Bavarians' iconic Olympiastadion part jeered and part cheered by a head-turning 77,573 supporters. The game itself ended goalless, but what an occasion it turned out to be.
That heady attendance figure brings us to our final carrot-dangling act ahead of Friday night's big k-o. Back on 11 June 1997, 1. FC Kaiserslautern and SV Meppen played out a 13-goal thriller in front of 38,000 devotees, with the unfancied visitors coming back from 6-3 down to within a whisker of registering a major upset over a Red Devils outfit that went on to become the first ever promoted side to win the Meisterschale a year later. Believe it when we say: anything can happen in Bundesliga 2.
Compiled by Christopher Mayer-Lodge