bundesliga.com takes a look at how and where they may succeed, analysing the Red Shorts' chances of enjoying an altogether different campaign in 2014/15...
Pierre-Michel Lasogga was Hamburg's saviour last season with 13 goals in just 20 appearances during a loan spell from Hertha Berlin - and that was all it took to convince the northern Germany club to sign the 22-year-old on a permanent deal this summer. "I just felt that they really want me here in Hamburg," Lasogga told local paper Hamburger Abendblatt. "I want to play my part in building something here at HSV. This club does not belong where it was last season."
One of the outstanding players for HSV during pre-season has been . The 21-year-old, who was blighted by injury last campaign, looks set to fill the void left by the departure of Hakan Calhanoglu to Bayer 04 Leverkusen, and his prolific pre-season tally of ten goals so far suggests he could well deliver as many strikes as the Turkey international (eleven) did last term - if not more.
Mirko Slomka became Hannover 96's longest-serving coach, guiding them through their most successful era with back-to-back UEFA Europa League qualifications before things turned sour last season. He was not out of work for long, though, Hamburg identifying him as the man they needed to stave off the threat of relegation. The 46-year-old had joined Hannover in similar circumstances and, after saving them from the dreaded drop, better times were not too far away.
To say 2013/14 was a disappointing season would be an understatement. Never before have Hamburg been as close to snapping their ever-present top-flight existence as they were last term, when it took a play-off against SpVgg Greuther Fürth to keep their heads above water. It was meant to be the year they returned to Europe, but Thorsten Fink and Bert van Marwijk both failed to justify those lofty ambitions, leaving Slomka with 13 games to salvage the club's season.
The mistake Hamburg made last year was to declare openly their desire to qualify for Europe. This time around, HSV plan to - temporarily at least - keep an altogether lower profile. "There was a time not long ago when we had 36 home games each season - that has got to be our aim again, but we're going to need patience," said the club's . "Other clubs have overtaken us in recent years and we know that, but that doesn't mean we have to accept it."
Slomka's first 13 games as HSV coach were all about harvesting the points needed to stay up, but in the long term, he will be aiming to deliver the same brand of football honed to near perfection with Hannover. Summer signings Matthias Ostrzolek, Nicolai Müller, and Valon Behrami should slot straight into a 4-2-3-1 formation with Dutch veteran working his magic in behind lone striker Lasogga.
Hamburg's preparations ahead of the new campaign didn't get off to the best of starts. Rafael van der Vaart and Co. were beaten 6-2 by Guangzhou Evergrande in the opening game of their pre-season tour of China. Slomka's ideas appear to be getting through, as seen in the 3-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Telekom Cup, but the Red Shorts remain very much a work in progress.