Borussia Dortmund have been chasing the tail of Bayern Munich in recent seasons while looking over their shoulder at the teams pursuing them. With new coach Lucien Favre in place and last season's squad significantly improved upon with some astute dealing in the summer transfer window, optimism is high in the black-and-yellow half of the Ruhr Valley.
bundesliga.com takes a look at the changes that have given BVB an upgrade on 2017/18.
The arrival of Marwin Hitz to the Signal Iduna Park from Augsburg this summer looks like it might shake up the established order. With Roman Weidenfeller, most definitely the number two last season, now retired, the number one shirt has gone to Roman Bürki, but Hitz will certainly challenge his fellow Swiss for the starting role.
The same, but different at the back for BVB, who will have familiar faces Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer — parts of the full-back furniture at the club — on the flanks of their back four once again. With Raphael Guerreiro coming back to fitness, loan signing Achraf Hakimi, who was training with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos & Co. at Real Madrid last season, and the fast-improving Jeremy Toljan, Favre has great cover too.
In the middle, though, there is a major change. Sokratis' departure for Arsenal and a chance to swap BVB stories with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan left a Greek god-sized hole. In Abdou Diallo, though, Dortmund have the man to fill it. The France Under-21 captain was sensational for Mainz last season, and Dortmund did well to shake off the rest of the chasing pack to sign him.
Watch: Dortmund's 2017/18 season was far from smooth...
Manuel Akanji's sure-footed FIFA World Cup showing with Switzerland will mean he comes into his first full Bundesliga season brimful of confidence. Dortmund fans will be hoping — with some justification — that their club has rekindled the sort of centre-back partnership Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic had as Jürgen Klopp orchestrated back-to-back titles.
With Ömer Toprak and Dan-Axel Zagadou also available, Favre will not only have cover, but also the option to play three at the back, particularly useful given the natural instinct his full-backs have to push forward. He used that tactic at Nice, and could do so still more effectively with the greater means he now has at his disposal.
Favre was not happy in pre-season. "When we lose the ball, we have a problem. We have to improve tactically. We have to anticipate better. Sometimes we have to play more simply instead of taking risks." The former Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach boss' concerns about balance and organisation in his side will surely be ironed out by Thomas Delaney.
Oh yes, the most exciting part of Favre's new-look side. The possibilities are seemingly endless, and each and every one is mouthwateringly promising. Where to start?
Favre's Swiss title-winning FC Zürich side was built of youngsters, so he will not hesitate to hand Christian Pulisic as much responsibility to create an attacking threat as Germany's 2014 FIFA World Cup hero Mario Götze, who is likely to occupy the central role in the three creators behind the striker.
Jacob Bruun Larsen made little impression during his loan spell at Stuttgart in the second half of last season, but the 19-year-old Dane stood out in pre-season, and provides Favre — along with Jadon Sancho, Shinji Kagawa and Marius Wolf — with a range of options should his pack require shuffling.
Since Aubameyang left in January, Michy Batshuayi has come, impressed and gone, and Dortmund have been said to be looking for a central striker. What if they never needed a new one?
Unlike Peter Bosz, Favre has been there and done it in the Bundesliga during his stints at Hertha and Gladbach, and those experiences, coupled with a wildly successful spell at Nice, mean he has more credibility than Peter Stöger. There is no doubt this is the biggest job of the Swiss tactician's career so far, but his track record hints at nothing that will stop him making a success of it.