Can Sven save the Elephants?
Tabloid writers would have been dismayed by Sven-Goran Eriksson's first press conference in Ivory Coast, for the talk was all football with nothing asked of his colourful past.
But that's how he wants to keep it, despite having only seen some of his provisional 30-man World Cup squad on video and despite having not met around a third of them.
"Before we talk tactics, let me first work with the players," the Swede, 62, told the assembled media on Tuesday. "But it will be a system that suits the players - you can't make a revolution in a couple of weeks."
Sven-Goran Eriksson brings a wealth of international management experience
Appointed in March after the Elephants' Nations Cup failure, Eriksson will only hold his first training session on Monday - just 30 days before facing his old nemesis Portugal - as the team gathers in Switzerland (albeit without FA Cup finalists Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Aruna Dindane among others).
Does that leave enough time to make any realistic imprint? Conventional wisdom would suggest not but football doesn't always work that way, as Denmark showed in 1992.
"The limited time makes it very difficult but Ivory Coast have experienced players who contest the best European leagues and the Champions League, so they're used to a certain level," Guus Hiddink, who regretfully turned down the job because of his Turkey commitments, tells me.
"With such players, they can challenge."
Indeed, Eriksson says many of his squad, which includes Kalou, Kolo and Yaya Toure, Emmanuel Eboue and Didier Zokora, are top-class, reserving the greatest praise - 'the top of the top' - for Didier Drogba, so popular in his homeland they've named a local beer, since it's big and strong, after him.
But the Premier League top scorer's popularity has waned, especially since many Ivorians felt he didn't give as much for his country in Angola as he does for his club.
They believe Chelsea were happy for Drogba to be at the Nations Cup just as long as he returned fit - which, his critics say, greatly diluted his potency - but he'll be back to his best with the brakes off in South Africa.
Ironically, in a war-torn land which Drogba credits the national football team with uniting, the Elephants themselves are reportedly divided.
"The team has great players but is not a great team," said former coach Vahid Halilhodzic, after the quarter-final defeat against Algeria engineered his dismissal just four months ahead of the World Cup. "Some of the best players don't want to play together."
Sour grapes or fair comment? Almost certainly a bit of both.
Though Eriksson can't know too much about the split - said to be between graduates of Asec Abidjan's famous academy (the Toure's, Zokora, Eboue, Dindane, Kalou) and the rest - he's already trying to apply glue.
Kalou was in fine form as Chelsea closed in on the Premier League title
"If we don't play as a team, we'll never beat Brazil," he counselled. "So working as a team on and off the pitch is one of our main targets."
Another must be the reorganisation of a defence that was shambolic against the Algerians. Hibernians' Sol Bamba was not up to partnering Kolo Toure in central defence - meaning Wigan's returning Steve Gohouri, a Nations Cup absentee, could squeeze in, or perhaps Abdoulaye Meite.
In Eriksson's favour - his organisational abilities aside - is that his illustrious CV means he should be able to command the respect of the players, many of whom gained vital World Cup experience in 2006, which is something Halilhodzic didn't always seem to have.
Nonetheless, like compatriot Lars Lagerback with Nigeria, Eriksson has only a month to devise and inculcate tactics with a new set of players. While some coaches had the luxury of naming their World Cup squads this week, Ivory Coast's friendlies with Paraguay (30 May) and Japan (4 June) will largely determine both their final 23 and likely starting XI.
"I've seen Sven several times recently and he's very excited but he's having to learn about his players very quickly," says David Davies, Eriksson's good buddy from his England days. "He does have considerable tactical nous though and I still believe he's one of the best coaches of his generation."
Many Englishmen would contest that, as would the thousands of Mexicans who celebrated the Swede's departure last year. Nonetheless, his considered approach could get the best out of an Ivorian generation that's desperate to ditch their chokers tag.
"The interesting thing I learnt from travelling to meet around 15-20 players is that they all agree they can do much better," he said.
Despite their Angolan ignominy, the Elephants don't need too much tinkering to click - even if the absence of a central midfield playmaker is still a problem.
Upon their qualification for South Africa 2010, there was talk of reaching the final but the current mood amongst many Ivorian supporters is one of resigned gloom. Privately though, albeit tongue-in-cheek perhaps, Sven is not ruling out a thunderous charge from his Elephants.
"We've had a joke that England might play Ivory Coast in the semis and that it'll go to penalties," says Davies. "He suspects the Ivorians might win - I don't!"
Two World Cups, two quarter-finals for Eriksson - can he go one better this time? Or will the Ivorian federation's gamble backfire in one of the toughest groups of all?