The charm of the Championship
Some things change, some things stay the same.
There are six new clubs in the Championship this season but, as was the case last summer, I really couldn't say with any degree of certainty what the division will look like at the end of the forthcoming season.
I have asked various people how they think their team will do this season. None of them know.
And although I'm more likely to stagger next door half asleep at three in the morning to ask my neighbour to crank up his awful European techno than feel sorry for a bookmaker, I don't for a second envy the Championship odds compilers.
For example, how many people do you reckon had a promotion treble of West Brom, Stoke and Hull last season? Frankly, I would be surprised if anybody did.
QPR are this season's favourites for promotion.
This is the same QPR who have endured seasons of off-field shenanigans, including trouble in the boardroom, while working their way through a succession of managers and managing a highest placed finish of 11th since they won promotion back to the Championship in 2004.
The R's factor this season is the millions apparently swilling around Loftus Road following the takeover of Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore.
But new boss Iain Dowie has a mixed managerial record - good at Oldham and Palace, a failure at Charlton and average at best at Coventry.
What's more, can anyone say with any degree of certainty that the three teams relegated from the Premier League last season will mount a sustained promotion push?
On paper both Birmingham (Marcus Bent, Kevin Phillips and Lee Carsley) and Derby (Martin Albrechtsen and Rob Hulse) have bought sensibly while Reading have retained the services of manager Steve Coppell.
But Sheffield United, Charlton and Watford all failed to bounce back at the first attempt, with only the Hornets making the play-offs.
It is the same throughout the division. Plenty of teams will feel that if their pre-season is successful and their new signings gel then anything is possible.
And the exploits of newly-promoted Bristol City in reaching last season's play-off final will provide encouragement to Doncaster, Nottingham Forest and Swansea.
Some people reckon the reason why last season's Championship was so tight - just 18 points separated the play-offs from the bottom three - was because it was such a mediocre league.
But, unlike the Premier League, the reason the Championship is such an exciting division is in part because of its sheer unpredictability.
Steve Claridge played in every tier of English professional football during his career and is in no doubt that the Championship is one of the most exciting and competitive.
"It is a great division simply because so many teams have a chance," he told me.
"There is very little to choose between all the clubs. There are plenty of sides who are probably only three or four signings away from being able to do a Stoke or a Hull."
Claridge even reckons that with a 46-game season, teams can even start the season poorly and recover to win promotion.
Crystal Palace were 19th when Dowie took over in December 2003 but went up that same season with victory over West Ham in the play-off final.
"Put a good run together at any stage and you won't be far away," is how Claridge puts it.
The Championship reminds me of the old Division One, the era just before the game became awash with cash. Some astute management, a few shrewd signings and the right team spirit can take a side a long way.
I find it refreshing and desirable when contrasted with the multi-tiered Premier League in which most teams have no chance of cracking the top four.
It is a good thing that so many clubs start the Championship season with a realistic hope of realising their dreams.
But which clubs will last the distance and be at the top of the table next May?