Munich - Some seasons live long in the memory, but for Hertha Berlin, 2012/13 might just go down as one of their best yet.
Soar like the Eagles
Rather than mope around, lamenting a second relegation from the top flight in three seasons, Jos Luhukay's men instead knuckled down and in the end took the Bundesliga 2 crown at a canter. Now, as they prepare to storm the Bundesliga shores for the 31st time, the question is: can the capital club make their stay permanent?
With the Old Lady's latest remit in mind, Luhukay has wasted little time in tweaking his squad for the new campaign. The Dutchman recognised that players boasting Bundesliga experience have the potential to make all the difference, with new recruits Sebastian Langkamp, Hajime Hosogai, Johannes van den Bergh and Alexander Baumjohann bringing exactly that to the Hertha table.
You only have to look at the fortunes of last season's promoted Bundesliga trio to see what effect even a smattering of top-flight know-how can have on the campaign in the long run. Greuther Fürth failed to win a single game at home on their way back down, while an equally inexperienced Fortuna Düsseldorf side soon ran out of steam, succumbing to the second-tier current on the final day.
The only freshly-promoted outfit to beat the drop were Eintracht Frankfurt - handsomely at that. And while a top-six finish is an exception to the rule, there is no question that prior top-flight knowledge helped their cause. Carlos Zambrano, Bastian Oczipka and Alex Meier are just three Eagles representatives to have previously enjoyed top-tier run-outs elsewhere.
Operation stay afloat
That's not to say Hertha will follow suit in 2013/14, but the model is there should Luhukay require any further motivation and inspiration ahead of his side's curtain-raiser at home to, ironically enough, Frankfurt. However, as the Hertha strategist warned, "anyone even talking about Europe underestimates the reality."
Last season, Hertha were the best home and away side the second division had to offer, winning 22 of their 34 league assignments and losing only twice, whilst scoring 65 and conceding 28. Now, though, as Hertha prepare to set sail on their latest voyage, keeping their heads above notoriously choppy Bundesliga waters is all that really matters. Anything else is just a bonus.