In many ways (Yes, brace yourself, there's a list coming…), the return of the football season is like the return to school after the summer holidays.
There are lots of shiny new uniforms in evidence, though there are a few people hoping no one else will notice they're still wearing last year's slightly tatty one.
There are a number of unfamiliar names (or 'new bugs') on the register?
'Right everyone, we've got some new people joining our class this term and I hope you'll all make them very welcome.
'Otsemobor, go and find a place at the back. Let him in, Hughes, that's it. Oh you have…
'Now, Strihavka, you'd better stay at the front where I can keep an eye on you. Oh dear, Brown appears to be in your place. Just wait here for a bit. Brellier, take off that ridiculous curly wig…'
And some old faces have disappeared?
'Here, what happened to that goofy little kid who used to do somersaults in the playground?'
'He moved away.'
'Shame. He was funny, I liked him.'
'Course, you know Mr Hunter's gone as well.'
'Hardface Hunter? Really? Why?'
'I don't know, but he left very suddenly?'
There's an awareness that the next nine months is going to bring a fair bit of earache from a teacher over my attendance record. (Did I mention that my wife is a deputy head?)
There's also an awareness that I should have done more preparatory background reading over the summer. Or some preparatory reading, in fact.
Worries about an inability to cope, and the threat of being trampled on by the big boys during games are common ? though you hope that the first day back isn't going to be too demanding. Just a nice, gentle settling in, that's all. (Sorry, who is Kevin Nicholls?)
The thing I really used to hate about going back to school was having to write the 'What I did during my holidays…' essay. It was a near-impossible task, as I never did anything worth writing about.
Remember that programme called 'Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?' My answer to that question was always: 'Because I live in Wymondham, and there is nothing less boring to do…' (Perhaps things have improved there since the 1970s; I hope for the residents' sakes' that they have.)
Still, I suppose I can look back now and appreciate that the task of spinning out a few hundred words when there is nothing of substance to say has stood me in good stead. After all, that's what I'm doing here.
I mean, what can I say about the forthcoming season? I simply don't have a clue how it's likely to go. Admittedly I didn't make it to any of the pre-season friendlies, but from past experience I know that they're an unreliable guide to form and results when the real competition starts. Darren Beckford hat-trick, anyone?
Is the current squad stronger or weaker than the one which finished last season? I've no idea ? but what is certain is that we couldn't go on as we were. Something had to change.
And have we really lost that much? Earnie always guaranteed goals, but I can't say I'm too upset about the departures of Etuhu and Safri. They were great on their day, but their day never came round regularly enough. ?1.5million for Etuhu seemed a decent price to me.
My biggest concern at the moment is that it's likely to take the team a while to gel, even if the new players prove to be as good as we hope. Bedding in a couple of additions can take a few weeks, but we're going to have half a new team out there.
Perhaps the most we can expect is to be in the top half of the table at the turn of the year and then push on towards the play-off spots in the second-half of the season.
Here's to a flying start at Preston ? though I won't actually be there to see it. Er ? or at Carrow Road for the Barnet and Southampton games. I'll be on holiday in France.
Yes, I know it's appalling timing, and tantamount to going away during term time. You'd think my wife would know it's not the done thing…
? Following the sudden exits of Messrs Earnshaw and Etuhu, there has been much discussion about secret clauses in the contracts of City players.
Now, for the first time, we can exclusively reveal the small print in Youssef Safri's contract:
Best before end 2006. Interest levels may fall as well as rise and you may not get back the full value of your original investment. Two matches a week may cause drowsiness. Subject to availability and the African Nations Cup.
Contents may slump in transit. Do not use in temperatures below 10?C. Not for promotional use. Some users observed slight sideways effects. Caution: harmful active agents. May cause irritation.
Explains a lot, really.
And finally? it emerged this week that Ipswich have introduced an extra charge for fans buying casual tickets by debit or credit card, even when buying them in person at the ticket office. Ticket for Ipswich v Sheffield Wednesday: ?22.50.
Charging fans an extra quid when season ticket sales are down almost 2000 and you need all the support you can get: Priceless.