When I wrote this article on the new Wednesdayite.com at the end of June, the off-season had been one where news out of Hillsborough had been scant and the questions posed at the end of last term hadn't yet been answered.
Things have certainly changed since then. The key measurement of how the off-season had gone was always going to be whether we started the new season with as strong a team as the one that finished the last one - and preferably better. Let's not forget that not only had we lost key loanees who had been the core of the side, but we also had four first-choice first-teamers out of contract.
Well, the news of Coke, Prutton, Llera and finally JJ signing up closed one half of that loop, and the brilliant permanent capture of Jeremy Helan left us only a striker or so short of keeping that second-half-of-the-season team together. And with early addition Jacques Maghoma being joined recently by the impressive Rafael Floro and out-of-the-blue signing Atdhe Nuhiu, the squad is looking pretty handy.
I think most Owls fans would like to see one final marquee signing, either in the middle of the park or up front, but it's clear that DJ's not settling for what he's got as he's admitted to chasing the signature of Kamil Zayatte - I wouldn't bet against there being other late arrivals at S6 before we kick off. The crucial thing is that - unlike last season - the team hasn't been rebuilt from the bottom up, which should bring dividends as players pick up where they left off in 2012/13.
Whilst QPR tomorrow will be a stern test for the Owls, I'd sooner play the relegated teams early on, before they're accustomed to life in the Championship and hopefully while they're still carrying some of the baggage of last season's disappointments. That said, a point will be a decent return for a Wednesday team that looked steady in preseason with an emphasis on building fitness rather than going out full-tilt for the win. I'd certainly take four points from the first two matches as a foundation to build a season of progress upon.
It would be remiss of me to close out without mentioning one of the more memorable nights in recent Hillsborough history as our only home friendly of the preseason turned into scenes that brought back memories of Kaiserslautern at home in '92. Rangers came in numbers and in awesome voice (most I spoke to could only point to West Ham's following in 1986 as a better example of a truly incredible following), and I can't have been the only one who spent much of the game watching the away end in awe of their noise and colour.
Opinions differ amongst Wednesdayites about the Glasgow giants, and many are uncomfortable that so much of what makes them such vociferous supporters stems from their sectarian rivalry with Celtic, but if their intention was to impress their hosts not only with their backing for their team but their friendliness and camaraderie with Owls fans, then they absolutely succeeded. The applause that reverberated around Hillsborough as fans paraded the flag in honour of Lee Rigby was warm and as much in respect for the Rangers fans as it was in memory of a fallen soldier. I hope that we get a chance to return the favour with a visit to Ibrox soon.
But that's enough about preseason. The real job starts now. If you're heading to West London then roar the lads on, and if not then we'll get together once more against Burnley next weekend.
Up the Owls!
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