For a second summer in succession Southampton find themselves assuming the position of spectator as fatter felines pilfer the finest assets from their dressing room before stuffing a wad of cash in their breast pocket upon leaving.
The sale of Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool (who else?) is widely anticipated to be a precursor to the departure of the sticky-tape and lolly sticks that held the Saints’ midfield together last term, Morgan Schneiderlin.
These high-profile exoduses come 12 months after Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren were whisked away to Anfield for a combined sum weighing in around the £50m mark, tyro full-back Luke Shaw was sold to Manchester United for a further £30m and Arsenal took his right-sided counterpart Calum Chambers for £16m.
The first campaigns beyond the confines of St Mary’s were frustrating ones for each member of the costly quintet and the contrasting fortunes Southampton simultaneously savoured has formed the basis for the widely-held opinion that the south coast club actually had a great time of it in the transfer market last year, despite the pre-season prophecies of disaster that their mass sales sparked.
Similar, yet slightly more reserved, whispers have surfaced again this summer, but the business being conducted by the Saints this time around is arguably even better.
The deals done by Ronald Koeman’s side ahead of the 2015/16 edition makes them a shrewd bet to break into the top six, with a bulky 3/1 available for believers.
Managing to finish seventh and, subsequently, qualify for Europe after seeing their captain and most creative midfielder, top goalscorer, defensive lynchpin and both full-backs depart is a laudable achievement that has, to a certain extent, gone unheralded.
They’re in a more prominent position ahead of the coming season and have still managed to extract great prices from those keen to sign their star men.
The £12.5m prised out of Liverpool’s pocket for Clyne is a prime example.
He’s undoubtedly a good right-back, but such a sum for a player in the final year of his contract is incredible value, especially when it’s considered he was bought for a fraction of the figure and a replacement has already been sourced in Portuguese international Cedric Soares.
Drafting in a midfielder of comparable quality to Schneiderlin will be tough, but the Saints’ recruitment team have previous in this department, while the fee north of £20m they’re sure to cop for a potential disruptive influence on squad morale will make their task a little easier.
Dani Osvaldo takes us from a Frenchman who might cause trouble to a fully-fledged bad apple; his release is yet another shrewd bit of tie severance from the Southampton decision makers.
It was a financial gut shot the club could easily absorb on the back of the bargains struck across the year.
Elsewhere, the loan of goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg provides international-class cover for arguably the signing of last season Fraser Forster, striker Juanmi offers much-needed assistance for Graziano Pelle and the club remain in the hunt to sign Belgian centre-back Toby Alderweireld on a permanent basis.
Completing the latter deal and effectively replacing Schneiderlin will leave the club poised to challenge those who squeezed them out of the highest echelons in 2014/15.