This season’s Community Shield pits defending Premier League champions Chelsea against Arsenal, defending champions of the Community Shield.
England’s Super Cup emerges from the football-free desert of non-tournament summer like a shining, silver excitement conductor, pregnant with portents for the season ahead.
This year’s edition has particular piquancy, with the combatants cheek by jowl at 31/20 and 9/2 in the top-tier title outright betting respectively.
But is the Community Shield really as good a predictor for top-tier glory in the campaign that follows as might be expected?
It seems Chelsea may have cause to rue their 3/4 favouritism for the August aperitif given just seven of the Premier League-era shield winners have gone on to be crowned champions that term.
Meanwhile, over half of those to lift the octagonal object of desire have ended the campaign without lifting a subsequent trophy of any kind.
Manchester City’s drowsy defeat in last year’s edition suggests that they were well aware how little difference winning or losing has made on a team’s title chances.
The average position of both winners and losers since 1992/93, to the nearest whole number, is third, with losers around 0.2 positions worse off.
Such news will be doubtless be reassuring to last season’s Premier League bronze medallists, outsiders for Wembley success at even money.
For goal-scorers too, making your mark in the seasonal pipe opener can prove a red herring for recognition in the campaign that follows.
Backers of Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney will be pleased to know that just twice in the 23-year history of the modern top flight has that term’s leading marksman identified himself by bagging in the Community Shield.
Even then Thierry Henry was on the losing side in 2003/04, while Dimitar Berbatov could only share the golden boot in 2010/11.