IT'S the first day back for Celtic as the Hoops players put on their boots in preparation for the start of the new campaign.
The summer has been filled with massive controversy off the pitch as Rangers have dominated both sport and news headlines.
It will be an odd experience for those at Lennoxtown who will report back to defend their SPL crown knowing that there will be no challenge coming from Ibrox this season.
It seems inevitable that Celtic will stroll to a second successive championship. And, if so, the biggest challenge of the season will come on a European front.
The hurdles faced there will be particularly steep and, given that the Parkhead side's first Champions League qualifier will also be their first competitive game, they need to find their match sharpness and fluency quickly.
Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld believes that the loss of the Old Firm fixture will leave a gaping hole in the season – but has insisted that there is little the Hoops can do but beat whoever is in front of them.
As a vital cog in a team that wrote the most glorious chapter in Celtic's history, Auld is desperate to see the Parkhead side mix it with the best in the game and that means getting themselves into the group stage of the Champions League.
However, he believes that Neil Lennon's side still need an additional couple of signings before they will be ready to compete on the European stage.
"At this level, you need to be able to entertain as much as anything," said Auld. "I would think that the current squad could really do with two or three quality signings that could make a big difference.
"The best way to coach youth is to have cracking players in the team that they get the chance to train with and play with – it is the quickest and most effective way to learn."
The rewards of Champions League football are lucrative and, given that the current financial situation has been further compounded by Rangers and their exit from the SPL, Celtic will surely welcome any further avenues in which they can increase their revenue.
But such commercial talk aside, the Champions League is where the players and also the supporters want to be.
Celtic will find out on July 20 who they will be up against first in the third round qualifier – and if they can get through that one there will be another challenge awaiting in the shape of the play-off before they can go brush shoulders with Europe's elite.
Auld believes that getting into the group stage of the tournament itself will be a challenge.
"In our day the champions of the country played the champions from other countries throughout Europe and that makes a lot of sense," he said.
"However, it is a huge money-spinning exercise now and there are all sorts of permutations about the groups and simply getting there.
"Last season at this stage was really disappointing and I felt the whole carry on with Sion was just embarrassing – Celtic should be better than all that.
"Hopefully we'll see some good football and good results, the kind of performances that would take them into the Champions League, but they'll need to find their feet fast."
And while supporters always relish the thrill of Champions League football, Auld doesn't think it can replace the Old Firm fixture.
There will be no meetings between the two Glasgow giants this season and the former Celtic midfielder feels for the emerging young talent at the club in particular.
"Games in European are magnificent and have an atmosphere all of their own," he said. "But I don't think there is a fixture like the Old Firm game in the world.
"It is an incredible game to play in because passions run so high. If you are a young player just coming into the first-team, the games against Rangers are the ones that are real tests.
"They are also the ones that you can endear yourself to the supporters.
"I don't think there is any doubt that they will be a loss this season to everyone.
"But as a Celtic player, you have to always measure yourself against what other Celtic sides have done and go out always looking to raise the bar.
"All they can do is go out and beat whoever is in front of them and play to the best of their ability.
"Everyone who pulls on a Celtic jersey knows that they have a lot to live up to and that doesn't alter regardless of who is in the league with them."