AC Milan and its fans are looking ahead to the new Serie A season with apprehension and uncertainty.
With a drastically changed squad and a pre-season of mixed results, no one is quite sure what to expect from the 2011 Serie A champion.
Not only did aging Milan icons Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and Filippo Inzaghi all leave the club at the end of last season, but fans also had to endure the departure of star players Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain.
Mark Van Bommel and Gianluca Zambrotta have also left the Rossoneri.
So disenchanted was striker Antonio Cassano after the sale of Silva and Ibrahimovic that he filed his own transfer request and has moved to city rival Inter Milan, in a swap deal with Giampaolo Pazzini.
Further departures could be on the way before the transfer window closes.
Narrow pre-season victories over Schalke and UEFA Champions League winner Chelsea boosted fans' dwindling confidence but a 5-1 capitulation to Real Madrid has left many fearing what the new season holds in store.
Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani publicly castigated coach Massimiliano Allegri for his tactics during the Madrid defeat and captain Massimo Ambrosini admits the team will struggle to match the likes of the Spanish giant this season.
"We're upset that we gave a bad performance, it's normal to be nervous after such a defeat," Ambrosini said. "But it has to be said that we played against a team which is stronger than us.
"This season, teams such as Real can't be considered on the same level as Milan, we are aware that we are one or two levels below these big clubs. However, now it's important for us to find the right spirit that this team must have for the whole season."
Milan was reminded of its past glory days when former player Kaka provided three assists for Real Madrid.
The Rossoneri has been trying to tempt Kaka back to the San Siro but the deal looks less likely by the day, with the Brazilian seemingly proving too costly for the Italian club.
There is still time for Milan to pull off a coup before the transfer window shuts but it increasingly seems likely that the club's big signings apart from Pazzini will be limited to midfielder Riccardo Montolivo and defender Cristian Zappata.
Milan has also signed Kevin Constant to replace the injured Sulley Muntari as well as Francesco Acerbi and Bakaye Traore.
Whoever Milan brings in, the club is well aware that this will be a season of transition.
"This team knows that the times have changed because we have lost so many important players," Ambrosini said. "Our preseason allowed us to be aware of that more ... The season is long, the results on the pitch will tell us if this squad has succeeded in again becoming more than a squad. We really want the season to start."
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis insists there is 'nothing official yet' regarding its hunt for a coach amid widespread speculation Rafael Benitez will be the new man in the hotseat.