Feels like it's been quite some time since the end of the season. More than likely because the summer seems to have been mainly made up of an exhaustive chase for Steven Fletcher punctuated by some less than stellar performances in preseason games.
However, this weekend coming - FOOTBALL IS BACK - like, every week. For ages. This is a good thing, and another good thing is we've got a week of season previewing to do, just to ramp up the hype even more than Sky Sports ever could.
So, as part of this we've got some experts in to predict what they think could happen next season, as well as what has happened this summer. Starting things off, it's A Love Supreme head honcho, Martyn McFadden...
As far as incomings this summer it's been relatively quiet round here. What have you made of Sunderland's business and what do you make of the potential names that have been linked to the club?
Martyn McFadden: Well, to date we haven't really set the world alight and the revolving door at the AOL has been in an outward direction. It's impossible to predict what will happen between now and the start of the season, or the close of the window, but we need extra quality, particularly upfront, this season and so far it has not arrived.
There have also been plenty of outgoings, with big-earners such as Craig Gordon, George McCartney and so forth all departing, while the sale of Michael Turner raised a few eyebrows too. Are there any more players you feel are on the chopping block?
MMcF: Well, the main worry is that Sess may leave. That's the one keeping me awake at night to be honest...
To position yourself on the fringes of the world of fantasy for a moment, who do you think would be a dream signing for Sunderland in the next few weeks, although isn't that far removed from possibility?
MMcF: Keeping Sess would do me. But we need a decent Premier League striker and have done for two years. One is essential, two would be adequate. Happy to let the gaffer choose who.
Over the summer there's been a bit of a change of style into a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation, although one of the main talking points has been wondering where Stephane Sessegnon fits into this. If you were the gaffer, where would you play him in order to get the best of him?
MMcF: I'd play Sess behind a striker, in a free role. Out wide he gets isolated and needs to be involved as much as possible. I wouldn't read too much into preseason formations at the moment, I think that often the formations in such games are decided around giving as many players a run out as possible.
Martin O'Neill starts his first full season as Sunderland boss after a mixed year last year. How do you see the season going? More like the early ‘glory' days or more like the post-FA Cup run of disappointment?
MMcF: The early glory days would be great, but there's not a great deal of confidence knocking around the city right now. We need some new players to come in to give everyone a boost. That said, preseason counts for nothing and if we nick a win at The Emirates we'll all be on a high and the moaners will have to shut up.
There's a few players in the final year, or final two years of their contract at the club. For whom do you think this season it's crucial they begin to show their worth to the team and the fans?
MMcF: I think they should be giving the cliched 110% whether they are new or long term players. However, the way a player's minds and wallets work nowadays suggests that if they've decided they are seeing their contracts out and moving on in June 2013, we won't see the best of them and if they decide they want to stay they'll playing out of their skins.
Time for some quick predictions if we could, and we'll start with your prediction for Player Of The Season, and why?
MMcF: Hard one. I'd say whoever we sign to play up front, as I feel that will be our major signing this summer and it'll have to be a good one.
And your prediction for Young Player Of The Season?
MMcF: Jack Colback, because he's my favourite
Where do you think Sunderland will finish next season?
And finally, is this the year we claw back some of the bragging rights when it comes to them up the road. Can we beat Newcastle, and can we finish above them?
MMcF: Yes! I hope...
And that concludes the first of our season preview pieces. Subscribe to A Love Supreme, Sunderland's No.1 Fanzine for the past 20+ years HERE, and visit their website (HERE) for daily news and notes on the club we all love the most.