The sole arbiter of Walsall's success, or otherwise, this season will be which version of Paul Merson's Jekyll and Hyde team turn up.
If it is the one that graced, or perhaps that should be dis-graced, the Bescot Stadium for most of last term then the Saddlers and their followers are in for another frustrating year.
But if it is the sleek footballing unit that battled and then strolled their way to League One safety at the business end of the campaign, then everyone associated with the friendly little Black Country club could be toasting Merson's transition from player to manager by next May.
Last year was a difficult one for the former England international. As he watched his team lurch from one disaster - losing to Slough Town in the first round of the FA Cup - to the next - being smashed 5-0 at Colchester in January - his own much-publicised problems with alcoholism ensured his return to the back-pages was an unceremonious one.
But despite twice offering his resignation to owner Jeff Bonser, Merson remained in situ and presided over a remarkable resurgence that culminated in five straight wins including impressive victories over Hartlepool United and Hull City.
"I don't want the season to end so we're off to play in Norway," became his favoured line.
Another was 'Not even ArsEne Wenger could have won promotion with this team' while a third, more presciently, was 'Judge me next season when I have the players I want'.
The time for the jury to begin their deliberations is nigh and if the end to the last campaign counts for anything, then Walsall could be in for a promising time this term.
With the transfer window about to slam shut on his fingers Merson brought in five players on loan last spring and has managed to retain three of them, goalkeeper Andy Oakes and defenders Craig Pead and Anthony Gerrard.
But while he would have given all of his limbs to have kept the catalyst for Saddlers' upturn in form, striker Julian Joachim, he has not managed to do so and feels distinctly let down that his ex-team-mate at Aston Villa made the bizarre decision to go to Boston United after being released by Leeds United.
The silver-lining is that Merson has happened upon Argentine gem Ruben Dario Larossa, with whom he played at Portsmouth, and who has shown an intoxicating talent in the club's preseason friendlies.
With the burgeoning reputation of last year's leading scorer Matty Fryatt and the continued presence of workhorse Jorge Leit?o, Walsall appear to have a potent enough strike-force to avoid any shenanigans at the southern end of the table.
They have improved markedly at the back too with the classy Gerrard doing enough during his loan spell to earn himself a permanent move following his release by Everton.
The addition of Dudleyborn Chris Westwood, from promotion-chasers Hartlepool, and veteran Steve Staunton, from Coventry City, combined with promising centre-back Julian Bennett and stalwart Ian Roper gives Merson a host of options in defence.
And with the experienced Oakes starting in goal, backed up by last season's hero, Dean Coleman, who saved a penalty with his first touch in a Saddlers' shirt, they should avoid the embarrassing goalkeeping shortage that blighted them a few months ago.
Whether or not all this is enough for Walsall to mount a sustained charge at the play-offs is doubtful.
With Nottingham Forest, Bristol City, Tranmere Rovers and Huddersfield Town looking near-certainties for top-six finishes that doesn't leave Merson much room for manoeuvre at the top.