For Everton, the 2019/20 Premier League season is all about building on the foundations laid down at the end of the previous campaign.
After a lengthy, and public dispute with Watford, The Blues were finally able to secure the services of Marco Silva as their manager - replacing the outgoing Sam Allardyce, who was brought in solely at a time of panic.
The Portuguese boss, with the backing of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and Director of Football Marcel Brands, guided Everton an eight-placed finish despite a mid-season wobble. The Blues were still, mathematically, in the hunt for the Europa League but let themselves down with the inability to capitalise on results away from home.
Yet, it was their home form that should be the launching point for the coming campaign. Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United were all dispatched with relative ease towards the close of the season - showing just why Silva was hired in the first place.
Now, with those teams in transition, the royal blue crosshair is pointed firmly at a return to European football and, perhaps, after nearly three decades, a piece of silverware.
While the transfer window is yet to fully shake out, Everton have managed to make some shrewd moves. Andre Gomes, who had a stunning loan spell, was acquired on a permanent transfer while one of Fabian Delph and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin will likely partner him in the middle.
However, it is in the final third where the Blues have finally addressed a long-term issue. The coup of signing Moise Kean from Juventus represents a huge change in Everton’s transfer dealings - capturing players who are, for the most part, in it for the long haul, while also offering a here and now option.
Realistically though, until the window comes to a close, the squad depth has taken a major hint. Idrissa Gana Gueye, an undoubted key player in the last few years, finally got his dream move to PSG while the highly promising Ademola Lookman wriggled out of Everton’s grasp and to RB Leipzig.
The pair likely would have played a part in the upcoming campaign, yet, now the Blues are left needing to make a handful of more additions.
Where the season can be won and lost
For Silva and his men, the season will be won and lost on their ability to rectify their away form and become a tricky to beat team on the road as well as at home.
They finished last term with only five wins away from Merseyside despite impressive wins at Burnley and West Ham United. For team aiming for the top six, that simply has to improve. In turn, their home form was solid - winning ten of their nineteen games.
Should the question surrounding their lacklustre away performances change, Everton will achieve their lofty aims.
One to watch - Lewis Gibson
While Everton are traditionally regarded for having an academy conveyor belt, the need to be successful now has prompted a shift. Promising youngsters who are a level above youth football but not ready to make an impact on the first-team level have been ent out on loan.
One, however, has not. Should the Blues be unable to secure a central defender late in the window, Lewis Gibson may find opportunities if Silva’s defensive depth comes into question. The 19-year-old had a stellar pre-season and was given starts alongside both Michael Keane and Mason Holgate.
He will likely get a chance in an early cup game, provided Silva can rotate his starting line-up.
Potential wildcard - Yerry Mina
Yerry Mina had a stop-start beginning to life at Everton after joining as a summer deadline day signing from Barcelona. The Colombian defender impressed at last summer’s World Cup and prompted the Blues to splash out despite only making a handful of appearances for Barca.
Yet, he found himself struggling for game time due to injuries and fell behind loan signing Kurt Zouma. However, whenever he did start, he was impressive and showed why Everton jumped at the chance to sign him.
With Zouma, as of now, not returning, Mina should cement himself at the heart of the backline with Keane.
What to expect from Everton
Fans will undoubtedly be expecting Silva and his talented ensemble to progress further than last season - while closing the gap on the ‘big six’. Talk continue to surround the need for European Football, especially as the club aims to grow its profile ahead of an ambitious stadium move and years of stagnation despite investment.
Realistically, Everton will likely reclaim their crown as the ‘best of the rest’ but can really put a marker down if the final Champions League place opens up. Fans will point to Chelsea having a new manager and having lost their best player, Manchester United ending last season in a tailspin, and Arsenal being a somewhat unknown quantity week-upon-week.
If those sides present the Blues with even the slightest slip, Silva and his men must be ready to pounce. It is simply imperative.