A disastrous night on which were humbled by a side with which they should at least be competing. How much is Arsene Wenger to blame for this Champions League repeat?
A football club in Germany has had its name, stadium, kit, badge, colours and nickname changed by a multi-billion Euro company. Another romantic football tale...
10) Are Sunderland The Relegation Dark Horse?
Much of the talk regarding teams being dragged into the relegation battle appears to focus on Swansea, West Brom and Aston Villa, and those clubs do indeed have their reasons for concern.
Sunderland, however, appear to have passed under the radar in these discussions. Surviving relegation last season was a mini-miracle engineered by Gus Poyet, but the manager himself has now entered a state of disillusionment.
"I'm waiting and waiting, which is not nice," Poyet said. "You're expecting to do a couple of deals, but they're not happening. People say don't be anxious or nervous. But the word I'm saying is 'hope'. It's a matter of time, but, as the days go past, that becomes difficult."
With 14 players leaving over the summer and only Patrick van Aanholt arriving for a fee, much activity is needed if another relegation battle is to be avoided. They remain a longer price than eight other clubs to go down, which is frankly unfathomable.
9) Can Harry Redknapp Stop Himself?
Whilst the signing of Rio Ferdinand seemed to be soaked in the QPR of 2011-13, the arrival of Steven Caulker seemed to be a good deal more sensible. They remain the only bodies through the door at the time of writing.
"We are determined not to make those mistakes again," said Redknapp last week. "We don't want people who are here just for the money and are not interested in the club."
The next month will be a great test of that resolve, with QPR surely needing to make at least four or five more signings. It would be easy for Redknapp to chase the likes of Rafael van der Vaart, Tim Cahill, and Samuel Eto'o (all have been widely rumoured), but if he can curb his own enthusiasm to shun the long-term, Premier League consolidation should be assured.
8) Are City Happy With Their Striking Options?
Sergio Aguero appears continuously half-fit, Alvaro Negredo is injured and there is still a sense that Edin Dzeko (and I like him) is not entirely trustworthy as a frontline striker. Stevan Jovetic may well be an entirely different proposition with a full pre-season under his belt, but there is still a question about whether City have the reliable firepower to ignite a title defence.
Financial Fair Play limitations decree that sales would need to be made prior to any significant purchases, meaning Manuel Pellegrini may be forced to stick rather than twist - there must still be an underlying worry that much depends on those naughty hamstrings of Aguero.
7) Who Will Be Everton's No. 9?
Even without the added fixtures provided by the Europa League, Everton's striking options look worryingly thin on the ground (Arouna Kone, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Naismith and Conor McAleny), but the pressure of Thursday-Sunday football will soon take its toll on a forward line far too light on numbers and reliable quality.
"We need a number nine going into the start of the season and we will make sure we sign one," Martinez told the Liverpool Echo. "There have been a lot of reports [about Lukaku], some even saying I've told people it's done but the situation is very clear. Rom created incredible memories we'll never forget and enjoyed his time at Everton but that doesn't mean anything between now and the end of the window. Everything is in the air and you can imagine there are options on the table. We'll try to work hard on it."
Lukaku remains the ideal option, but in the likelihood that Everton are outbid (on wages rather than fee) then an answer needs to be found. Replacing the Belgian's goals and presence would seem to be a tough task indeed.
6) Will Daniel Levy Wake Up In Time?
Manning the transfer blog this summer has brought two questions into the comments section more than any other. The first is 'Any news on Vidal', whilst the second is a slightly more desperate plea: 'Have you heard anything [sometimes capitalised] about Spurs buying anyone [sometimes capitalised]?'
Ben Davies is the only first-team addition (Michel Vorm will be back-up to Hugo Lloris), with it appearing increasingly likely that Mauricio Pochettino will be expected to get far more out of the likes of Erik Lamela, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli and Etienne Capoue.
One quick word for Levy, however: STRIKERS. Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane do not a top-four bid make. The silence from White Hart Lane remains deafening.
5) Do West Ham Even Want Their Manager?
When Sam Allardyce was told in May that West Ham 'want to see progression on the pitch and at least a top-10 finish as a result' it appeared to be when, rather than if, it would all blow up.
For a while, it all seemed to be going so well. Aaron Cresswell, Diego Poyet, Enner Valencia (although surely too expensive?) and Cheikhou Kouyaté provided the blend of youth and hunger that a squad bloated with experience so obviously needed, with Mauro Zarate also recruited to add that touch of the unpredictable.
A month later, and all looks lost. Two pre-season friendlies have been lost to mediocre Antipodean opposition, Andy Carroll has been ruled out for four months and the manager and owner have markedly different opinions on the future of Ravel Morrison. The rumours are now circling that Allardyce is close to being sacked - nothing like a nice bit of continuity to make pre-season go with a swing.
4) Can Southampton Recruit At Pace?
Whilst many Southampton fans understandably hang their heads in despondence, I rather feel that Southampton are doing things right. The departure of Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren has seen the coffers swelled to the tune of £85million, with manager Ronald Koeman now likely to shop on the continent for suitable talent. Given the much-publicised English premium (and the rotten look of much of the current bottom half), it seems to me like a perfectly viable tactic, despite the predictable prophecies of doom (I do see why fans are frustrated).
However, whilst Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic have already arrived, Southampton must now recruit at least four other players at a rate of more than one a week, whilst still aiming to avoid paying the premium associated with an enlarged transfer fund that has become very public knowledge indeed.
One thing at least seems certain: It promises to be a busy month for Eredivisie agents.
3) Who Is Arsenal's Holder?
Not every team needs a holding, or sitting, midfielder, but with a likely first-choice front five of Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and then one of Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud depending on preferred shape, Arsenal need someone at the base of midfield to just be.
The Daily Mail last week claimed Arsene Wenger believes that Wilshere could be the answer to such a role (with Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain also primed for that position), but neither would seem like the ideal fit right now. Instead, for a title bid to be sustained, Wenger must buy, and buy well.
Lars Bender, Morgan Schneiderlin and Sami Khedira have all been mentioned in more than just passing, and now is the time for a courage of conviction. Fail to bring in a suitable name (and thus settle for the risky option) and it may be just another Arsenal Groundhog Day - nearly but just not quite.
2) Will Liverpool Scrimp On Their Left-Back Need?
It was the position that nearly everyone needed. Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool were all in the market for a left-back as last season ended, necessities satisfied by Luke Shaw, Filipe Luis and Ben Davies respectively - only Brendan Rodgers has been left empty-handed.
"If that means I have to wait until January then that's what I will do," was Rodgers' response when asked about more investment in his team, but the left-back position must surely be addressed before then. Jon Flanagan was an excellent make-do option last season but prefers to operate on the right side, whilst Jose Enrique started just six league games last season due to a serious knee injury.
With Rodgers and Liverpool seemingly stuttering over matching Sevilla's valuation of Alberto Moreno, names such as Ryan Bertrand and Adriano mentioned instead. It would seem foolish to settle for a lesser option for the sake of £8-10million.
1) Can Van Gaal's Ambition Translate Into Action?
There is little doubt that the initial Manchester United Louis van Gaal experience has been a positive one, with ten goals scored in two friendly victories and a familiar sense of authority returning to Old Trafford.
That said, this is a squad that was largely written off as needing wholesale changes in order to address the stench of mediocrity surrounding the club last season, and only two additions have, as yet, been made. It is all very well Ed Woodward remarking that United are "not afraid of spending significant amounts of money in the transfer market" but actions speak a great deal louder than words, particularly after the farce of the previous summer.
The Van Gaal effect may be a long-lasting fillip, but it will not stave off a winter of discontent should the club's summer promises again end with a mood of fruitless disappointment. One season without Champions League football can be swallowed, but consecutive campaigns without participation in Europe's premier club competition cannot. The next month will go a long way to confirming just how 'back' United really are.
Daniel Storey - Follow him on Twitter
@stringman04, "title winning Kolo Toure" has won no more titles than Jones, Evans and Smalling have, and he won that title as a fringe player at Manchester City (he played 14 games all season, seldom as a starter), with a squad packed-to-busting world class players at the peak of their game. He's a number of years older now, and half the player he was then. As for Agger and Skrtel, did you watch Liverpool last year? Going forward you were magical, but defensively you were shambolic. It was keystone cops-esque at times. Liverpool are absolutely not in a position to be turning their noses up at anyones defenders. If I had to choose between yours and ours, I'd take ours in a heart beat. That's not because I think they're great, but because they're absolutely no worse than the shower you have at the back yourselves.- HarryBoulton