With a revamped team, a new coach and an untested home ground awaiting this season, former champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) will brace for a different challenge when they face holders Chennaiyin FC in their Indian Super League opener, in Kolkata on Sunday.
Rabindra Sarovar Stadium last hosted a major tournament way back in the 1999-2000 National Football League when they hosted Tollygunge Agragami, and this year the stadium was made ATK's home ground with unavailability of the Vivekananada Yuva Bharati Krirangan owing to the 2017 U-17 World Cup.
Champions of the inaugural edition, ATK have retained seven players in the foreigners' roster, including their marquee recruit Helder Postiga.
But they have made wholesale changes to the Indian line-up, barring retention of Arnab Mondal and Jewel Raja. ATK also have a new coach in Spanish World Cupper Jose Molina who has succeeded the ISL-winning Antonio Habas.
The key will be to get accustomed to the new surface and the rejigged setup and ATK would look forward to relish the challenge against the Chennai franchise who had ousted them in the semi-finals in ISL 2015.
The two former champions clashed four times last season and ATK won three of them, while one bad game -- a 0-3 loss in the first leg semi-final in Pune killed their prospects.
"Last time, we were arguably the best team in the league but we lost one bad game and it killed our season," Iain Hume, who won ISL's first golden ball with Kerala Blasters, said of their semi-final loss to Chennaiyin FC last season.
ATK incidentally had begun their last season against the same team blanking the defending champions 3-0 in Chennai, something that will certainly inspire them as they would look to start off well and avenge their loss in last year's semis.
It was in the opening match in 2015, Postiga's season ended after two goals in 72 minutes as the Portuguese World Cupper could not recover.
After reportedly failing to clinch a deal with 2010 World Cup golden ball winner Diego Forlan, the team retained Postiga and it would be a payback time for the ATK marquee player.
In Postiga's absence, the Scottish-born Canadian Hume stepped up brilliantly to become second highest scorer last season with 11 goals as they duo can form a potent striking force.
Chennaiyin FC, on the other hand, is a model of consistency as head coach Marco Materazzi will be returning for a third consecutive season.
Materazzi's charismatic personality and shrewd tactics have turned Chennaiyin into a cohesive well-oiled machine as they have never failed to make the last-four.
They had their pre-season training in Italy where they won three consecutive matches.
Marquee signing John Arne Riise will add to an already tight defensive unit that ended last season as the league's meanest defence.
He along with Bernard Mendy at centre-back will surely pose a towering presence for ATK but it remains to be seen how they fare without their two golden boot winners Elano Blumer (2014) and Steven Mendoza (2015).
But they have new additions like Succi, Maurizio Peluso and Dudu Omagbemi, who netted a hat-trick for FC Goa last season, while top Indian forward Jeje Lalpekhula will add value to the side.