When Arsenal fell short of a first league title since 2004 last season, there were understandably fears they may have missed their chance.
Leading the Premier League for almost the entirety of the campaign, Manchester City with Erling Haaland firing, racked up a run of 14 wins and one draw towards the end of the season to take the title.
That meant Mikel Arteta’s side ended the year trophyless, but it was still a hugely successful campaign for the runners-up, finishing nine points clear of third-placed Manchester United, securing a lucrative Champions League return.
In the background, though, was an annoying reminder that Liverpool had an uncharacteristically poor campaign, big spenders Chelsea were in crisis, and Tottenham and Man United certainly had more to offer.
All suggestions are that a number of those sides could be back at the top, and that things will be even more difficult for 2023/24, without even thinking about treble-winners City improving and moving further ahead.
However, two months on from what possibly felt like a sad end to the season, Arsenal head into the Community Shield clash with Man City – live on talkSPORT – in a better position than they ever have been under their young manager.
Arteta has been fully backed in the transfer market to an extent perhaps beyond what most fans were dreaming of, securing gigantic signings in all three outfield positions.
The £65million deal for Kai Havertz came out of nowhere, and rather than being marquee, it turned out to almost be an added bonus considering what came next.
Jurrien Timber was secured from Ajax for £38m in a transfer that could revolutionise the defence, offering versatility and international class for a group already full of it.
But then just days later came the big one – Declan Rice.
After years of struggling in the market and often seeing their best players poached, Arsenal instead bought in one of the best.
Bagging the former West Ham captain and England regular for a club record £105m, the era of losing talents like Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas to rivals was suddenly a distant memory.
And on top of that, they beat City to his signature, which may prove symbolic should a power shift occur this summer.
Manager Pep Guardiola couldn’t compete for the midfield controller despite his side’s Abu Dhabi millions, and the bad news for the Spaniard doesn’t stop there.
Reaching football utopia with a treble win, a number of his trusted greats have decided to move on, with captain Ilkay Gundogan leaving a gaping hole in midfield by joining Barcelona for free.
Riyad Mahrez followed him out the door with a move to Al Ahli, and Kyle Walker looks like the next to depart to Bayern Munich.
Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Kalvin Phillips are also subjects of transfer interest, while coming the other way has so far just been Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol.
The Croatia regulars will very likely thrive in Guardiola’s style of play, but won’t replace Mahrez.
Guardiola himself has indicated as much, sounding more downbeat than usual in pre-season as he attempts one of his more challenging squad refreshes and admits: “Saudi Arabia has changed the market.”
It’s hard to imagine he’s too worried with Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish still firing on all cylinders, but with a Community Shield meeting with Arsenal days away, it’s clear which side has had the better summer so far.
And while the real challenge starts a week later with a Premier League curtain raiser against Burnley, City may well not be quite ready for what Arsenal are set to throw at them in a tone-setting and potentially season-defining curtain-raiser at Wembley.
Manchester City v Arsenal in the Community Shield is live on talkSPORT at 4pm on Sunday 6 August
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