The addition of a relegation playoff has changed the dynamic of Scotland's fourth tier dramatically. No longer can a club coast along, safe in the knowledge that being the SPFL's bottom club is the worst that can happen. As the hapless Berwick Rangers found to their cost, there are well-funded, hungry teams looking to get out of the regional leagues. Stagnate at your peril.
After back-to-back relegations, Barry Smith has gutted the squad. There are certainly newcomers who arguably belong at a higher level, such as Chris McLaughlin, Luke Watt and Ross McCord, but the question is whether Smith can gel them together quickly enough. Anything other than a promotion challenge would be a disappointment.
How quickly will the newcomers find their feet? They've essentially kept together the squad that won the Highland League and the reinforcements they have made, especially ex-Killie defender Daniel Higgins, are more than good enough for this level. They certainly won't fear anyone, and shouldn't worry about the drop. Could they even push for back-to-back promotions?
Their situation looks a lot rosier now Shane Sutherland has returned for a third spell - their form fell off a cliff after he left in January. Their summer business looks decent but they'll need to play the loan market well again if they are to get back into the top half...or even to avoid getting dragged into a relegation battle.
The great amateurs have realized that in the current era luring decent players for expenses only is becoming too hard - especially when in a year's time they'll no longer be able to offer the lure of playing at the national stadium. For now though, it's a team of decent Junior League players and young cast-offs. Will it be sufficient to get by?
The Binos improved massively after Kevin Rutkiewicz took over midseason and will fancy they can push on this time around. This is another club who have chopped and changed significantly over the summer but crucially there's plenty of players here who know what League Two is about. A decent loan signing or two could push them over the top.
And here's how I predict it'll go...
1. EDINBURGH CITY
3. STIRLING ALBION
4. BRECHIN CITY
5. COVE RANGERS
6. ELGIN CITY
8. ANNAN ATHLETIC
9. ALBION ROVERS
10. QUEEN'S PARK
As ever, I expect time will prove that I don't know what I'm talking about!
Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly.