Pre season. The games that fans cling onto to get a fix of football after a barren summer. You can watch the lads and you might get a jolly somewhere slightly exotic, which also fills the void left by a lack of away days.
So, with nothing announced, at the time of writing, us supporters are constantly refreshing our Twitter feeds to see where Sam Allardyce will be taking his team to prepare for the 2016/17 campaign. Personally though, I'm hoping for nothing too fancy.
We all know what became of Leicester City last season and how it actually began in lewd disaster but, after the appointment of Claudio Ranieri, do you know how they prepared? Some commercial driven matches in the USA? A shirt selling expedition to Africa? Travelling down under to Australia?
Nope, they didn't leave the country.
In fact, they barely left the East Midlands as their furthest trip was an away game to Rotherham. It certainly proves that any match against professional opposition will get players sharp for the new season and it further underlines just how bad our preparation was under Dick Advocaat. I'm not expecting us to win the league next year, but the lack of long haul flights certainly did Leicester the world of good when you look at their fitness levels especially compared to ours.
For those who don't remember, last season we didn't just travel to the west coast of the USA and play a few games. The players flew out, changed flights, got to a hotel which was miles from their training complex, traveled an hour to play their matches, then went up to Canada for a game, flew back home and then back out to Germany for another match. At some point they managed to find some time to squeeze in some games against some lower league English clubs, but the lads were probably so knackered they'll have had no idea what was going on.
When you need to be getting as fit as possible constant travel like that is going to be so detrimental and exhausting. Even the jet leg alone would set you back. No wonder it took the players so long to get to peak fitness when they were essentially playing catch up from the start.
These trips aren't about the players fitness though, we all know that. It's about networking and trying to build the Sunderland "brand." I can understand that, but that terrible pre-season was a big contributor to another flirtation with relegation, something which would have had much bigger consequences for the clubs profile.
So, let's keep it simple - get the new signings bedded in as quickly as possible, and get the team fit and ready to go. Becoming a stronger Premier League side will make the club far more attractive than playing a match thousands of miles away, against an MLS team's reserves.
If we have to go away, let's stay in Europe and not go somewhere far flung. Stay there for a while too, so the team isn't constantly bouncing about. It means the players can concentrate on their preparation and, from a supporters perspective, you can easily travel out to watch the lads whilst having a bit of a holiday.
It's satisfies all parties and it will mean we're not repeating past mistakes. Keep it simple, Sunderland.