By Avenell Dave
There's nothing like the pre-season members day to remind us that the season really is just beginning.
Given the high security at London Colney, this is a rare chance for us Gooners to see the players together in an extended, informal environment.
For those of us looking to see how the players interract or who stands out, there was little revelation.
Pretty much everyone can look good in training.
Nick Bendtner and William Gallas both seem less engaged with the cameraderie than others, while Manu Eboue bowed to the fans on his hands and knees at one stage, no doubt doing his best to regain their support after that dodgy game against Wigan last year.
Interestingly, Cesc did not take a lead role, preferring to play as he always does, as one of the lads without seeking to stamp his authority on proceedings.
After light jogs and football-tennis, the crossbar challenge provided some entertainment.
If you'd put money on who would hit the woodwork, perhaps Alex Song (post) and Johann Djourou (bar) wouldn't be the first names you'd expect to shine.
But what struck me, looking for all intents and purposes and what could well be considered the entire first team squad, with the notable exception of Samir Nasri, was how many world class players we have.
Now all us Addicts know that the big problem we will face is fitness, with key players likely to get injured without the benefit of too much experience in reserve.
But looking at the team, I could count at least four who would be of interest to any team.
Andrey Arshavin, Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo are top top class and the absence of three of them for large parts of the season because of injury, plus Arshavin's late arrival, say much for why we struggled last year.
I'm sure some of you out there might take me to task, suggesting Robin van Persie and Nasri, perhaps even Theo, should be in that category.
But my point remains. We are strong and we have a team to scare the hell out of anyone.
Of course the problem comes defensively, and time will tell whether Thomas Vermaelen proves to be a worthy successor to Kolo Toure at the back.
Regardless of the potential or ability of Song or Denilson, a truly tenacious and dynamic defensive midfielder could make such a difference to our season.
If Big Phil really is off, I fear we may be light in defence as well.
But watching today, I cannot help thinking that the team is better for its departures.
Gone are egos, cliques as the well-informed Amy Lawrence described them in this week's Observer - and I have a feeling that this may well be a magical season for us.
The fans have been patient. We have no divine right to success.
But if Arsene Wenger's new total football 4-3-3 formation really works, the doubters will be silenced in nine months' time.