Aston Villa have been handed a thankless first fixture of the 2006-7 Premiership season after being invited to become Arsenal's first opposition at their new 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium.
August 19 will be a historic day but all any travelling Villa fan can hope is that David O'Leary's team get a better result at Ashburton Grove than they did on their last trip to that corner of North London in April, when they were routed 5-0 on their final trip to Highbury.
For O'Leary, who still holds Arsenal's appearance record and played more games at Highbury than any other man, it means another emotional return to his former club. But, after last season's brush with relegation, he can't wait to get next season under way on such a big stage.
"I'm delighted," said O'Leary. "These are the big games I relish going into and I want the players to relish facing the top sides, too.
"I loved Highbury and enjoyed some fantastic moments there and it will be strange going to play Arsenal, but not going to Highbury.
"But Arsenal had to move on and they're moving on to a terrific stadium, which looks absolutely wonderful. I look forward to my first trip there."
Villa, the West Midlands' only top-flight representatives next season, certainly have it tough on the opening day but their early-season schedule generally has a less forbidding air about it.
Following the Arsenal trip, Villa then have another five games before facing their next big test against champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on September 30. Between then, they have three winnable home games against newly-promoted Reading, Newcastle United and Charlton Athletic, either side of trips to West Ham United and Watford.
As far as the more fuel-conscious Villa fans are concerned, December 9 and February 10 are the two dates to look out for. On those days, they are scheduled to make the two shortest away trips of the season, to Sheffield United and Reading respectively.
By the time the Premier-ship season gets underway a week late due to the World Cup, the Coca-Cola League will already have been in
action for a fortnight. That constitutes a particularly painful reminder for relegated Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion of the level to which they have returned. And, although the opposition in each case is less than eye-catching, both could not ask for more than being given home games on August 5; Blues face Colchester United, while the Baggies meet Hull City.
Blues' date with a Colchester side making their bow at this level means an early reunion with his former club for recent signing Neil Danns. There is a similar challenge in prospect for Cameron Jerome at Ninian Park three weeks later, when he goes back to Cardiff City.
For manager Steve Bruce, there is also the prospect of an August home date against his old side Crystal Palace - a fixture which should also provoke some interesting debate in the boardroom, given the past verbal duels between David Sullivan, David Gold and their Selhurst Park counterpart, Simon Jordan.
Blues end the season in May against Preston North End at Deepdale, the scene of the most forgettable failure of them all - the night Trevor Francis lost his cool before the penalty shoot-out that sealed the third of Blues' play-off semi-final defeats.
The Championship serves up 12 West Midland derbies and the fixture list will be considerably altered by the time the games are played, due to television requirements and police requests.
Blues host Albion at St Andrew's in late October but the first all-Midlands clash of the season comes the week before, when the Baggies host the first Black Country derby in almost five years against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The return at Molineux is scheduled for mid-March.
Wolves start at Home Park, Plymouth, where they turned in their worst performance of 2005-6 but their early programme generally offers up hope of a good start.
By way of contrast, Micky Adams' reshaped Coventry City have it tough over their first four games, starting with home dates against Sunderland and Leicester City either side of trips to Southampton and Dave Jones' Cardiff, while in League Two, relegated Walsall start off at Rochdale.