AC Milan delivered all-too fleetingly in Serie A last season, thus prompting heavy summer investment in a bid to avoid a repeat performance.
Not since the dark days of the early 1980s have the Rossoneri been in such turmoil, following a 10th-place league finish last term, which came hot on the heels of a disappointing 8th spot a year earlier.
The Diavoli have installed yet another new coach in the shape of Sinisa Mihajlovic – who arrives from Sampdoria to replace Filippo Inzaghi – and introduced a raft of playing recruits, as the Milanese giants aim to get back into contention for the Scudetto.
Pre-season results have been patchy, but there were promising signs in the recent Trofeo TIM that Mihajlovic’s new-look line-up is beginning to gel.
Arguably the most notable names through the door are South American strikers Carlos Bacca from Sevilla and Luiz Adriano, who joins from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Roma defender Alessio Romagnoli, who worked with coach Sinisa Mihajlovic at Sampdoria last season, and his Giallorossi team-mate Andrea Bertolacci have also arrived for big-money fees.
Meanwhile, those previously out on loan including Alessandro Matri, M’Baye Niang and Antonio Nocerino have returned to bolster the ranks.
Stephan El Shaarawy was allowed to leave for Monaco having failed to live up to exalted expectations, while Adil Rami switched to Spanish football with Sevilla.
Giampaolo Pazzini, Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien have also left the club during a period of great upheaval.
Former Inter centre-back Mihajlovic once stated that he would never entertain the thought of coaching arch-rivals AC Milan, only to do just that this summer.
The Serbian spent 14 years of his glittering playing career in Italy, before leading Bologna, Catania, Fiorentina and Sampdoria as head coach.
He preferred to utilise slight variations of a 4-3-3 formation last season, as Il Doria finished in 7th spot to qualify for the Europa League qualifying rounds via the back door, after local foes Genoa failed to nominate an alternative home stadium in which to play their European ties.
Defensive organisation is of paramount importance to the Serb’s tactical plan, while he expects his team members to employ a combative approach at all times.
Samp showed great industry and pressed tirelessly under his instruction, whilst looking to hit the opposition with quick counter-attacks at their first opportunity.
Mihajlovic has often been forced to operate within a tight budget at his previous clubs, but it’ll be intriguing to see what he can do with substantial financial muscle behind him.
As far as AC Milan fans are concerned, it simply must get better this year after two campaigns of inexcusable underachievement.
The 2011 Serie A champions limped from one disaster to another over recent years, but there is renewed optimism around San Siro following a series of impressive new signings.
With a proven coach now at the helm – plus a leaner, meaner squad of players to choose from – the Rossoneri should be a markedly tougher proposition next term.
The spine of the AC Milan side now appears exuberant, exciting and athletic following the arrivals of Romagnoli, Bertolacci, Bacca and Luiz Adriano during this summer’s transfer window.
After the failings of inexperienced coaches Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi before him, new boss Sinisa Mihajlovic must be given time to establish his own brand of football at the club.
It will surely take time for the team to click, but his organisational skills and ability to improve many of the players at his disposal could make the final product worth the wait.
Should the plethora of new recruits settle in quickly, then it’ll almost certainly turn out to be a highly productive season for the 18-time Italian champions.
Expected finish – 6th (NB: this is not necessarily David Lee Wheatley’s opinion but the average of our editors’ predictions.)