That marks the highest position the relative Bundesliga greenhorns have finished in their six top-flight campaigns to date, and plenty of hard work will be needed if Markus Gisdol's current crop are to match it, or even go one better and qualify for Europe.
As part of their mid-season preparations, the Sinsheim club have planned a ten-day training camp in Johannesburg, where they will be subject to ideal conditions for recharging their batteries ahead of their return to action against FC Augsburg on 1 February. One of many top-flight clubs travelling abroad this month, Hoffenheim will be promoting the club's brand, as well as that of the league as a whole.
The trip is another high-profile tour for Gisdol's men, who rounded off the 2013/14 season with an eight-day tour of India as official Bundesliga ambassadors. South Africa was chosen as the base for their winter camp due to its warm climate and because it is also on Central European Time. The lack of time difference allows for the possibility of night travel, which increases the amount of time the club will be able to spend on the training pitch.
Gisdol's men, accustomed to optimal conditions at their own training base at Zuzenhausen, will have highly modern facilities at their disposal in South Africa. Their training centre in Sandton, north Johannesburg, is where the Slovenian national team (pictured) was based at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The team will be staying at the Fairway Hotel Spa & Golf Resort, a five-star luxury hotel in Randburg. Friendlies have been lined up against Pretoria University FC on 11 January and Kaizer Chiefs FC five days later, before the squad return home ahead of another friendly against Danish side Brondby IF on 22 January.