Sunderland finished last season strongly with wins over Chelsea and Manchester United and a draw against Manchester City, and have subsequently backed manager Gus Poyet heavily in the transfer market in a bid to continue that good form into this season.
Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones, Santiago Vergini, Sebastian Coates, Patrick van Aanholt, Jack Rodwell, Jordi Gomez, Will Buckley and Ricardo Alvarez have all arrived this summer, and the Black Cats will be hoping to build on their 14th place finish last season by looking more towards midtable and maybe even the top ten - despite missing out on a deal to sign Liverpool striker Fabio Borini.
Borini's compatriot Emanuele Giaccherini is part of the squad though, despite speculation linking him with a move back to Italy throughout the summer. The 29-year-old arrived in the North East from Juventus a year ago when Paolo Di Canio paid a fee believed to be in the region of £6.5m to bring him to England.
It wasn't quite the perfect season in England though, with five goals in 31 games in a stop-start season. Rumours of interest from Fiorentina were fervent over the summer, and Giaccherini admitted that he had offers to return to Serie A - but turned them down as he wanted to stay at the Stadium of Light.
"I did get calls from Serie A clubs during this transfer window. Serie A is a great league, but I have a contract with Sunderland running through until 2017 and I’m happy here," said the former Cesena man.
Giaccherini has seen plenty of competition come in for his role in the Sunderland midfield, with Poyet likely to favour a 4-2-3-1 system with Lee Cattermole and Jack Rodwell behind Adam Johnson, Alvarez and Buckley. If Giaccherini doesn't play regularly, then a return to Serie A may look more appealing.