Ah, the first day of the Premiership season tomorrow. A Test match may (or may not) still be in full flow in the south London sunshine, while the imprint of Zinedine Zidane's battering-ram bald head probably still hasn't quite faded from Marco Materazzi's midriff. Yet it's already time for Tottenham and the rest to lurch back into action (ideally lasagne-less) and start the important work of demolishing those dreams that have somehow formed during the fondness of football's (brief) absence.
On the August opening day of last season, I and all the other Spurs fans foolish enough to head down to the South Coast to Portsmouth's embarrassing imitation of a professional stadium found ourselves the only area of Fratton Park uncovered by even a rickety roof - and thus, as the monsoons poured down, ended wetter than had we taken the plunge off the end of Southsea Pier. I could just about be made out on that evening's Match Of The Day, peering bleakly out of waterfall-effect fringe. At least we won, 2-0, with an excellent early goal foe inspiring confident hopes of a dynamite season ahead for Jermain Defoe, culminating in World Cup glory... Well, it was a nice idea...
This Saturday I'm driving up to Bolton, hopefully for a warmer, drier day, and certainly to a sturdier stadium - though the 5.15pm kick-off will no doubt have me wondering, on the long drive back that night, why I didn't stay at home and watch this one on TV, to ease into the season gently...
Anyway, everyone else is doing it, so why can't I - here are a few, hostage-to-blogging-fortune, forecasts...
Relegated: Fulham, Sheffield United, Watford
Championship champions: Birmingham City
Runners-up: Crystal Palace
Play-off winners: West Bromwich Albion
Play-offs: Southampton, Norwich City, Leeds United
Champions League: Real Madrid
Runners-up: Manchester United
Uefa Cup: Tottenham Hotspur
FA Cup: Liverpool
League Cup: Aston Villa
Runners-up: West Ham United
Final Premiership table:
3 Manchester United
5 Tottenham Hotspur
7 Blackburn Rovers
8 West Ham United
9 Newcastle United
10 Bolton Wanderers
11 Aston Villa
14 Manchester City
15 Charlton Athletic
16 Wigan Athletic
19 Sheffield United
And a few more:
* England debuts are given to Adam Johnson, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Pennant and Steven Taylor
* The Emirates Stadium is as quiet as the Highbury Library
* Jose Mourinho leaves Chelsea at the end of the season
* Multiplex insists Wembley will be ready in time... for the 2012 Olympics
* David Beckham plays again for England
* Michael Carrick has an injury-disrupted first season for Manchester United, is half-written off as a sort-of flop, then belatedly emerges in style a la Sheringham
* Theo Walcott publishes his first autobiography
* Jermain Defoe scores 20 goals
* Terry Venables is the subject of a redtop scandal
* The Emirates Stadium's early full-houses dwindle alarmingly as the dreary weeks go by, plunging the club with the largest debt in world football ever-quickly closer to bankruptcy, while Thierry Henry admits his error and signs for Barcelona during the January transfer window and the ailing players he leaves behind struggle to stave off relegation.
(One of these is, admittedly, not so much a confident prediction, as a flight of wishful fancy. I know, I know - this year's probably a season too soon for Tommy Huddlestone...)