Pep Guardiola's revamped Manchester City launch their assault on the 2017-18 Premier League title with a trip to Premier League new boys Brighton. The newly-promoted side will be looking for a positive start to their first home game in the top flight in 34 years.
In a strange quirk of fate, 34 years ago, in the 1982-83 season, Brighton's last top-flight home game was also against City, where they were also looking for a positive result but for very different reasons.
Brighton were coming to the end of a four-year stint with the big boys, their only period in the top flight. With both sides in the relegation area and Brighton preparing for a first-ever FA Cup final against Manchester United, they had plenty on their respective plates.
City too were beset with problems in those dark days. Having hit second place after a November win over Southampton, the club had got itself into a deep rut of appalling form that had carried them to the very edge of the relegation zone. The penultimate game of the season was at the Goldstone Ground, Brighton's ramshackle stadium until 1997.
A late winner by Kevin Reeves relegated Brighton that afternoon, setting them up for a dreary double when they eventually lost the Cup final to United in a replay. City went on to live another day, facing Luton Town in a last-day battle for survival. In tumultuous circumstances, Luton pulled off the great escape with an infamous 84th minute winner from Radomir Antic, thus relegating City alongside Brighton.
It was a season's end that represented the start of a long period of instability for both clubs, with Brighton almost going out of the league altogether in 2006 and City hitting the unthinkable low of third division football in 1998.
That this season's opener finds both clubs in rude good health is in sharp contrast to those gloom-laden days of strife and ill repute.
City, with aspirations on reaching the very top of European football, are perhaps still a step or three ahead of their rivals, but their short record on the South Coast suggests it will be anything but a cakewalk for the visitors.
In that four-season top flight tenure between 1979 and 1983, Brighton managed to register two thumping 4-1 wins at the Goldstone Ground and followed that up with an even better score in the FA Cup in 1983, again registering 4 but with no reply from City. It was a win that would spell the end of the managerial career of John Bond at City, so disillusioned had he become with the lack of funds to buy new players.
In those days, the chairman Peter Swales had tried to break the bank chasing his dream of seeing City jostling for the top places with Liverpool and Manchester United, but had come up short when injuries and poor purchases meant City ended up with a team of expensive flops. With new recruits this summer totalling over £200 million, John Bond would not have been quibbling about a cup defeat to Brighton in 1983. City's brave new world has ushered in a new extravagance that makes the club's million pound purchases of the likes of Reeves, Steve Daley -- who was once sent off at the Goldstone in 1981 -- and Trevor Francis look like very small fry indeed.
City will step out at the Amex Stadium with a backline alone bolstered to the tune of over £140m. Brighton, meanwhile, have just spent their record fee of around £10m on PSV Eindhoven's Davy Propper. As City have come to realise in the past few seasons, an outlay like that attracts a great deal of attention and a great deal of expectation. Brighton, with expectations low and supporters in raptures, can be expected to enter the fray with more than just the traditional August bounce in their step.
In the olden days, City fans would have known exactly what to think about a matchup involving such evident inequality: an almost certain defeat. These days the propensity for gaffes and pratfalls has diminished at a club where professional rigour has taken the place of the old slapstick routines.
The opening day of the season remains one where surprises often occur, especially in the games involving the relatively unknown quantities of the newly promoted sides, but all eyes will be on Guardiola's side to make a start that confirms their position as one of the favourites for the title this season.
Looking back 12 months, the 10 straight wins that City recorded from the big kick-off in 2016-17 eventually turned out to represent a false dawn. Undressed by Tottenham at White Hart Lane in October, they never fully recovered the striking composure which had decorated their opening fixtures.
With a frenetic start expected on the South Coast, Guardiola's men will be looking for another smooth acceleration from the blocks. The turbulent history of this fixture will tell them not to count their chickens before they are hatched, however.