Who will be market movers?
Manchester City's "stratospheric" efforts to muscle in on the Premier League's elite Gang of Four have set a searing pace in the summer transfer market.
Gareth Barry has already been snared from Aston Villa, along with Blackburn Rovers striker Roque Santa Cruz - but they increasingly appear to be mere warm-up acts for the forthcoming main attractions.
Carlos Tevez looks certain to swap Manchester sides by exchanging United for City - a notion that would have been laughed out of Old Trafford 12 months ago - while Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o would be elevated to one of the world's highest-paid players in the increasingly unlikely event that he takes the Abu Dhabi riches on offer at Eastlands.
Arsenal's Kolo Toure and Everton defender Joleon Lescott are two other priority names on Mark Hughes' shopping list. And all the smart money is on the pair being successfully recruited to add some foundation to the attacking riches City intend having at their disposal.
City may be claiming the headlines and signing the largest cheques - while neighbours United bank the biggest in receiving £80m from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo - but it is a safe bet that the rest of the Premier League will not be shy in spending to reshape their squads for next season.
So who will be the prime movers in the market as clubs prepare to return to pre-season training this week?
Manchester United suffered the rare emotion of disappointment as the form that deservedly secured a third successive Premier League title collapsed when confronted by a vastly-superior Barcelona in the Champions League final in Rome.
Throw in Ronaldo's departure and the decision not to sign Tevez - a move I do not believe Sir Alex Ferguson will live to regret - and United's manager will have had plenty to ponder at his French holiday retreat.
Ronaldo's brilliance will be missed, but his time at Old Trafford was over and £80m is adequate compensation for his absence, especially with Wayne Rooney primed for a return to a more central attacking role. Tevez, in my opinion, pulled up short when it came to serious influence at Old Trafford, despite the affection lavished on him for his very obvious effort.
Ferguson will bring in Wigan's Antonio Valencia as a starting point, while being armed with a vast fund to attempt to sign the world-class talent to replace Ronaldo. He has never been above springing a surprise in the transfer market, but you can be sure one predictable target is on his radar in the shape of Lyon's gifted Karim Benzema.
Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero is another gifted star reportedly under examination, but the prospect of Franck Ribery making his way from Munich to Manchester has receded, with the ever-present shadow of Real Madrid lurking should he leave Bayern.
And might he be tempted to spend some of his newly-inflated war chest on a goalkeeper? Edwin van der Sar showed signs of wear and tear last season, being badly at fault for Eto'o's crucial first goal in the Champions League final, while Ben Foster continues to be dogged by injury.
Chelsea are something of an unknown quantity in the market, given their impressive finish to the last campaign and the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti as replacement for interim coach Guus Hiddink. AC Milan have already warned Chelsea away from Brazil striker Alexandre Pato by suggesting (with more than a sprinkling of wishful thinking) that a £50m bid will be turned away.
Gifted midfield man Andrea Pirlo has also been touted, but is £20m for a 30-year-old sound business? One man who seems certain to have a future at Stamford Bridge is Yuri Zhirkov, CSKA Moscow's Russian international, who is equally adept anywhere down the left flank. He is on his way, his reputation propped up by a glowing reference from Hiddink and the admiration of Abramovich.
It is surely a matter of minor tweaking, and the addition of a couple of quality signings, as opposed to a major influx of new faces under Ancelotti.
The same mantra will apply at Liverpool, who put together their most consistent attempt at winning the title in years last term. And yet the loss of only two league games still left them second behind Manchester United.
Time will tell if this was a case of Liverpool missing their big chance or a primer for the Premier League crown to return to Anfield this season.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has moved to address weaknesses in the full-back position by paying £17.5m for Portsmouth's Glen Johnson. Johnson is much-improved player, but this is an eye-watering amount for a defender.
Benitez may benefit from further strengthening down the flanks to provide competition for Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera, with Valencia's David Silva a contender. A hand on deck to provide serious support for Fernando Torres should also be a priority.
Liverpool face a fight to keep the disaffected Xabi Alonso, while Javier Mascherano has also been linked with Barcelona. Alonso will be the main worry for Benitez, and he must act quickly to ensure he is left with enough time to buy a replacement in the likely event he needs one.
Arsenal ended last season as a very firm fourth in the Premier League - and need work despite the optimistic outpourings of manager Arsene Wenger. Endless potential is one things, four years without a trophy is another and this is a piece of history that cannot be rewritten.
Wenger has responded to demands to toughen up Arsenal's perceived soft centre by signing Ajax's Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen in a £10m deal. This would offset any loss of Toure should he follow the money trail to Manchester City.
Arsenal's next port of call is likely to be central midfield, with Fiorentina's Felipe Melo a prime target - urged towards a move by his Brazil team-mate and former Arsenal midfield man Gilberto Silva.
Manchester City's mountainous transfer fund will make life even harder for those clubs on the outside looking in at the prestige and financial firepower afforded by a place in the Champions League.
Indeed, City's outlay is nowhere near a guarantee that they will finish in the top four - the pressure on boss Hughes to succeed after being handed an open cheque book will be enormous.
Aston Villa harboured hopes for long spells last season, but Martin O'Neill's side faded desperately in the closing months and his need for re-inforcements has taken on fresh urgency with the loss of experience and influence caused by Barry's departure to Eastlands and the retirement of his successor as captain Martin Laursen.
Villa have been linked with Portsmouth's Sol Campbell, while a realistic target will be Sheffield United's Kyle Naughton, who fits O'Neill's preferred profile of young and English talent.
Spurs outcast David Bentley revealed he was in talks with Villa, but this is surely a case of "buyer beware" unless Harry Redknapp is happy to take a huge hit on the £17m paid to Blackburn Rovers last season.
O'Neill is aware of the holes in the squad that need filling and owner Randy Lerner insists funds are in place. So over to Villa's boss to find the men who can bring him his first trophy (or a Champions League place) in his fourth season at the club.
Everton finished "best of the rest" in fifth for the second successive season, and supplemented that with a place in the FA Cup final, losing to Chelsea.
The test for manager David Moyes is to prove that Everton are not now banging their head on a glass ceiling and that fifth is not the new first at Goodison Park. And he will once again have to try without the aid of a huge transfer fund.
The talk is of around £12m plus any raked in from sales - an amount that is likely to double and more besides if Lescott does make the move to Manchester City, although striker Jo, on loan at Everton last season, may return in any potential package.
Moyes' policy will be to pursue young, and preferably British talent, which means he may rival Villa for Sheffield United's Naughton and follow up a long-standing interest in Cardiff City's Joe Ledley.
It does not, however, rule out a move to bring Michael Owen to Goodison Park and the hardy perennials Joao Moutinho from Sporting Lisbon and Rennes' midfield man Stephane Mbia have been linked once more.
Everton need to improve down their right flank and whispers on Merseyside continue to link Moyes with Jermaine Pennant now his unfulfilling spell at Liverpool has drawn to a close. Intriguing speculation, a move that would be brave for both manager and player.
Moyes will have Yakubu, Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka back at various intervals next season, but chairman Bill Kenwright must resist the urge to peddle the line that "they will be like three new signings." Only real signings can keep Everton where they currently stand, let alone have any chance of improvement.
Spurs, inevitably, will be busy as they go in search of silverware and an improved league placing. White Hart Lane's revolving door will be spinning off its hinges as manager Harry Redknapp overhauls his squad and waves off talent like David Bentley, Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Robbie Keane has even been whispered as another who might find his way out of Spurs just months after his return from Liverpool, but surely this is fanciful, even by the transfer market's unpredictable standards.
Add Didier Zokora, Pascal Chimbonda, Alan Hutton, Jermaine Jenas, Tom Huddlestone to your list and we can be sure of one thing - whether they all go or not, it will be eventful down at the Lane again this summer.
Potential ins? Take your pick, but Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben, Ashley Young, Scott Brown and Gabriel Heinze have all been in and out of the frame at various points.
And how about this for an outsider as a summer arrival? Chelsea's Joe Cole - not my tip but I will happily name our office expert who is hanging his hat on that one should it come to pass.
Spurs captain Keane has been mentioned in dispatches as a potential target for Sunderland, who will be big players in the market as new boss Steve Bruce is heavily backed by owner Ellis Short's fortune.
Niall Quinn will hope Bruce's shrewd operating at Wigan, where Wilson Palacios and Antonio Valencia proved stunning investments, can be repeated at the Stadium of Light.
He can move at the top end of the market and intends to do so. He has been monitoring Darren Bent at Spurs as well as Richard Dunne at Manchester City. Eidur Gudjohnsen's availability at Barcelona has not gone unnoticed, while any change in Peter Crouch's position at Portsmouth could be the catalyst for action.
South America has proved a fruitful hunting ground for Bruce in the past, and he is casting his net worldwide again, with Honduran Hendry Thomas is in his sights. He tried to bring the midfield man to Wigan from Honduran side Club Olimpia last season but ran into work permit problems - but is now ready to try again.
So, the wheels will start to spin in the coming weeks as cash flows around the Premier League transfer market.
And the teams above will not be the only ones making the moves - who should your team bring in and ship out as the countdown begins to the new Premier League season?