FOR Fraser Forster, it's all a bit of a novelty.
Now entering his third season at Celtic, and into his third contract, this is the first pre-season with his team-mates.
Twelve months ago, he was headed for America with Newcastle – wishing he was on the other side of the world with Neil Lennon and the Hoops players in Australia.
The summer before, his initial loan move to Celtic would also not have looked out of place had it been arranged through lastminute.com as he was parachuted in after the campaign had started.
So, there is no happier figure in the Celtic squad currently here preparing for the third match of their short tour tonight, against FC Aalen, than the giant Geordie.
Forster is relishing the oppor- tunity to get a complete pre-season under his belt ahead of what promises to be a whirlwind start to the competitive fixtures with the opening Champions League qualifier.
He showed his short break has done nothing to blunt his form, picking up where he left off last season by playing very well to record another shut-out in the opening game of this tour against Bundesliga side Augsburg.
Although Lukasz Zaluska was given a chance to play in Sunday's 1-0 defeat against Stuttgart Kickers, Forster will be the man Lennon relies on when the glamour warm-up games arrive, against Ajax on Saturday, Norwich next midweek and Inter Milan on July 28.
With his long-term future secured, the big man is desperate to prove the near-£6million commitment in terms of transfer fee and wages made by Celtic to make him their No.1 is money well invested.
Already with one championship medal and Scottish Cup badge safe in his grip, Forster wants more and said: "I want to win the league title a few more times and just keep improving as an individual to see where that takes me. I want to help us win things as a team.
"The gaffer has put a lot of faith in me since I first came here, and I want to repay that. Winning the league title was a big thing – an achievement. But I have enjoyed all of my two years here for a lot of different reasons, so I can't wait to get this season started."
The big man is aware that many people south of the border believe he has sold himself short by heading back to Scotland at a time when the game here is in such disarray.
However, the 24-year-old is looking beyond the immediate horizon, and can see the bigger picture, which includes the opportunity to make his mark well beyond these borders, via the Champions League.
"It was the right step at the right time in my career to sign this contract," he reflected with assurance.
"I was never in any doubt. I've really enjoyed the last couple of years here, and felt it was the right time to make the move permanent. This is a massive club, and it speaks for itself.
"The Celtic fans have been terrific since I arrived here two years ago. They have always been brilliant with me, and continue to be so. I need to give a big thank you to them for the support they have shown."
The most immediate – and appreciated – way to do that would be to take his shut-out form into the Champions League qualifiers and give Celtic the base from which to push on into the group stages.
Like everyone else at the club, Forster is anxious to discover who will present the first obstacle to Celtic in their quest to reach that lucrative target.
The information will be known on Friday, and then there will be an 11 or 12-day wait until the first leg takes place.
That's all very different from previous years for Forster who, through no fault of his own, has made late arrivals at the club his hallmark.
He said: "The day I first came to the club, two years ago, we were playing Utrecht away in a Europa League qualifier. I had missed the first leg, so just travelled with the team to Holland. "I was thrown in at the deep end, really. I missed a lot of pre-season, trained for only a few days, then played Motherwell away in my first league game."
Last year was no better after negotiations between New-castle and Celtic over a second loan spell dragged on beyond pre-season again, which meant Forster went to the States with the Toon rather than Down Under with the Hoops.
Now he is settled, in every sense, and such summer shenanigans are a thing of the past. Forster said: "There is a bit of sadness about leaving Newcastle. It's my home-town club and the one I supported as a kid. But now I am just looking forward to the great things I have the chance to do at Celtic and the next step in my career."
Forster now knows this will not involve Old Firm games, for the foreseeable future, at any rate. That will be a big regret for the man who, over the past two years, has come to terms with the occasions and grown in stature the more he has experienced.
However, Europe would be a more-than-adequate replacement, and Forster said: "It will be different not having Rangers in the SPL, but we'll have Europe and every other league game is a challenge for its own reasons.
"It might be a bit strange to start with, but there are plenty of positives in the league and I'm sure there will be tough games to look forward to."