If one thing is certain ahead of next season, it is that things are likely to be very difficult for Sunderland.
Jordan Pickford and Jermain Defoe, the only two players to come out of last season with a shred of dignity, have both moved on to pastures new, the remaining squad is far from healthy and the owner still wants to sell.
The arrival of Simon Grayson as manager has also failed to raise the excitement levels, with the majority of Black Cats fans having set their sights a little higher when considering who would replace David Moyes.
Yet, the appointment of the Preston North End manager could prove to be a smart one. Grayson is vastly experienced in the Championship, having managed no fewer than three teams in the division over the years.
Last season, his Preston team was an impressive one as they managed an 11th placed finish despite only having one of the smallest budgets in the division.
He is a manager that knows what it takes to compete in England’s second flight and Sunderland’s decision to appoint him shows they are planning on playing it safe in the Championship next season rather than taking a calculated risk.
Continuing with that theme, if Sunderland are intent on making an instant return to the Premier League next season then following the path laid out by rivals Newcastle United last season would be a smart way to go.
A year ago, the Magpies found themselves in a similar situation to their rivals from Wearside.
Relegated from the Premier League, they had to find a way to get back at the first time of asking or risk being trapped in the second tier as many before them had been.
They, namely Rafa Benitez, decided that building a squad with experience of the division would be the best way to go about securing promotion. As a result, seven of their subsequent 12 signings all had experience in the division.
Benitez built a spine through his team, with Championship level defenders, midfielders and a striker all arriving to bolster his squad.
It was a strategy that proved to be a successful one. Newcastle finished the season as champions, a point ahead of Brighton, with Dwight Gayle, one of those summer signings, ending the campaign as the joint second highest goalscorer.
Their strategy was a very effective one to say the least. Besides getting them promotion, it has also given a strong squad to build upon for the upcoming Premier League campaign.
Furthermore, should the worst happen this season and they find themselves dropping down once again; they will do so with a squad that has already been successful in the division.
Sunderland should be taking note. If they wish to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, treading the path set out by their rivals would be a smart way to go about achieving it.