Indeed, after outscoring every club other than FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund last term and conceding the most goals outside the bottom three in the process, Markus Gisdol has plenty of food for thought ahead of the new campaign. bundesliga.com puts the Sinsheim side under the pre-season microscope...
To say Roberto Firmino came of age in 2013/14 is beyond an understatement. The Brazilian's trickery, eye for a pass and deft touch in and around opposition penalty areas has long been the stuff of legend at Hoffenheim's Rhein-Neckar-Arena, but last season he took his Samba skills to a whole new level. With 16 goals, he finished fourth in the end-of-season scorers' charts, whilst also providing 12 assists. Only Dortmund's Marco Reus posted a higher return in the two departments combined.
Adam Szalai joins the club after just one season on the books at FC Schalke 04. The Hungarian international netted seven times in 28 league appearances for the Royal Blues, taking his overall tally to 28 in 107 appearances in Germany's top tier. With Firmino on his shoulder and Kevin Volland on the prowl, the 26-year-old might find himself adopting a new take on 1. FSV Mainz 05's 'Bruchweg Boys' as the spearhead of another prolific front three.
Markus Gisdol's enterprising brand of attack-minded football has earned many a plaudit since steering the club clear of relegation via the 2012/13 play-off. The 44-year-old earned his corn in the lower echelons of German football, before working as an assistant under Ralf Rangnick at Schalke. Having already coached Hoffenheim's reserves for two years between 2009-11, Gisdol left the Veltins to return to his former haunt in April 2012, and hasn't looked back since.
After three consecutive 11th-placed finishes between 2010 and 2012, Hoffenheim diced with danger in 2013 before ending last term in 9th. The ambitious club will hope to improve on that finish in order to consolidate the progress made under Gisdol, and the key to that will be plugging their leaky backline. "I'm sick to the back teeth of it," was one of Gisdol's more memorable remarks - uttered after last season's 4-4 draw with SV Werder Bremen - about his side's defensive frailties.
Gisdol's first full season at the helm was just about exciting as the Matchday 34 win over Dortmund that took Hoffenheim into the relegation play-offs beforehand. Games involving die Kraichgauer averaged a 30-year high 4.18 goals per game in 2013/14, as Firmino and Co. set a new club record for goals scored in a single campaign (72). They also became the first side since SV Waldhof Mannheim in 1986/87 to ship 70 and still beat the drop.
Markus Gisdol is unlikely to make too many changes to his first-choice XI, with the arrival of Oliver Baumann (r.) perhaps the only sure-fire debut fans can expect on Matchday 1. The former Freiburg custodian won't have Fabian Johnson in front of him, but Ermin Bicakcic should prove a capable replacement. Pirmin Schwegler (l.), Szalai and Simon Zuber are the club's other notable dealings, but that's not to say either will walk into the starting line-up.
Under the current coach, TSG's hallmark has been their willingness to cover ground. Regularly among the teams to have eaten the most yards last season, they have two training camps and seven friendlies behind them heading into the season opener, including a win over FC Zürich and a draw with UD Sampdoria. Preparation for the visit of Augsburg were helped by a over USC Paloma - a game in which Sven Schipplock hit five goals.