The close season is all about speculation and where better place to start than the imminent squabble for those all-important Champions League spots.
Presupposing that the two Manchester clubs are probably going to repeat their local duel for supremacy at the very top we are left with a meagre two blank spots to fill.
The main contenders should be Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.
Outside bets may see Liverpool and possibly Newcastle being worthwhile punts. The Reds have to improve on last season but Brendan Rodgers would need to work wonders to bring a rudimentary side towards his playing mantra.
The Toon finished just outside the top four last season but with a gruelling Europa League to contend with, consolidation as an upper top-half team should be the main priority.
Arsenal who finished third last season did so off the back of one of the most tumultuous, see-saw dramas you are likely to watch.
They lost Fabregas and Nasri in the summer, which didn't propagate the notion of high expectations, surmised by the 8-2 drubbing at the hands of a rampant United in August.
The hallowed principles of Wenger looked more like the incoherent babble of a mad man but with Robin Van Persie in the form of his life they defied expectations.
Fast forward to the peripheries of the 2012/13 season and it's déjà vu for the Gunners, RVP is the latest prized asset to have lost faith in the club's tentative aspirations, weighed down by the apparent burden of financial solidarity.
On the more optimistic side, which is the only side Gunners fans have been offered in a trophy-less seven years, Arsenal have made some intriguing signings.
Lukas Podolski, 27, a versatile forward, gave everything to his hometown FC Köln's attempts to stay in the Bundesliga with 18 goals last season.
An impressive 101 caps for Germany ensures he has more than enough experience at the top level and is far more pragmatic than the frustratingly ponderous Gervinho for all his ability.
Olivier Giroud, 25, is more of an unknown quantity but with 21 goals for Montpellier obtained with pace, strength and areal prowess, he is a modern striker, brought in with the simple task of replacing RVP.
Both players like to score goals and should assist with Arsenal's profligate tendencies; evening out the goal scoring load will be pivotal, but even if they don't, their transfer value shouldn't depreciate too much and so could prove to be low risk, high-reward ventures - classic Wenger.
The key to their challenge is the return of Jack Wilshere, who missed the entirety of last season.
He is one of a select few English players that actually enjoys having the ball at his feet and relishes the opportunity to distribute creatively with clarity and purpose.
The sooner Arsenal can get him back into the fold, the sooner they can control and inspire from midfield. Coping with the loss of a star can be softened with the return of another.
North London rivals Tottenham may have to cope with the loss of Luka Modric, he has made it clear over the last two summers that his time with Spurs has come to an end, despite Daniel Levy's belligerent efforts to shackle his aspirations.
The other significant loss is that of Harry Redknapp, who took his eye off the prize last season when his head was turned at the prospect of managing England.
The return of a star, of sorts, is that of Andre Villas-Boas who was lambasted for his poor man management of an aristocratic Chelsea.
He does however, have a good 30 years of mileage in him, the managerial equivalent of a wonderkid if only they were allowed the same room to progress as players do.
The signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson is an important one. Tottenham will look to play 4-3-3 and had to accommodate for Rafael Van der Vaart's unenthusiastic tracking back last season, Sigurdsson is better-rounded in that sense and can pull off the spectacular given the chance.
The Belgian Jan Vertonghen, 25, is a welcome signing in defence and by adding an out-and-out striker preferably in the shape of Emmanuel Adebayor, Tottenham will be challenging again.
Providing AVB doesn't lose focus in a quest for vindication, his incredulous defiance in the face of player mutiny undermined his vision at Chelsea; his redemption, even if he wouldn't call it so, could see Spurs back in the top four once again.
Chelsea round off the unofficial top five and are probably the most likely to give the Manchester clubs a run for their money. Their latest acquisitions suggest that Abramovich will not necessarily want Chelsea to win the Champions League again to automatically qualify.
He not only expects silverware, but also an aesthetic, perhaps even along the Spanish tiki-taka lines.
Marko Marin, 23, is 'The German Messi' apparently and was available relatively cheap, comparatively, Eden Hazard, 21, cost £32m and his wage bill even made the Manchester clubs baulk.
Potentially adding the Brazilian Oscar, 20, the 'new Kaka', for £25m, Abramovich is making a statement of exalted expectation to the manager, Roberto Di Matteo.
Di Matteo brought the success that Abramovich always wanted last season with that elusive first Champions League title, but done so deploying anti-football tactics that highlighted the squad's limitations as much as their mental fortitude and resoluteness.
There can be no excuses for playing poor football now.
With two places to fill these three will be vying to secure one of those slots at the very least.
The stakes are high and it would be no surprise if heads were to roll if any of these teams failed in their quest for a position that secures prestige and most importantly, a financial security.