Let the big Dundee United guessing game begin . . .
Put another way, what will Ray McKinnon’s line-up be as the curtain goes up on the new season when the Tangerines face Raith Rovers in the Betfred Cup on Saturday?
Normally by this time, with just three days to go until the competitive stuff, fans have a fair idea of what their favourites’ starting XI will be.
They’ll probably even have a sense of what the shape of the side will look like.
The fans will have had five or maybe six friendlies in which to run their eye over and form opinions on new signings, how existing players have come back and maybe get an idea of which youngsters could break through in the coming campaign.
And, while the first couple of these games will be about getting the legs going again, by the last one or two how the manager plans to go tactically is usually pretty clear.
For the first time in decades, however, this pre-season Arabs have not had that chance.
As they’ve completed their build-up in record time — it will be little over three weeks between the first training session and opening cup-tie — last week’s 3-0 win at Montrose was the only public outing.
There was a victory over Blackpool for what was not too far away from the first team on Friday, followed by a defeat for a more mixed bag of a side against Peterhead on Sunday.
Both those outings where behind closed doors, meaning all bar a few dozen who were willing to peer over fences, have only seen their team once since.
There’s nothing sinister in that. The length and nature of the build-up was a case of needs must.
After a marathon 2016/17 campaign, the manager knew his players deserved a decent break to recover — physically and mentally.
That meant he had to rely on them to keep their fitness ticking over during their holidays, which they did, then condense what’s been a “topping up” process to get them back to peak shape in a matter of just a few weeks.
He’s happy he’s been able to do that but what the lack of public action means is it’s difficult to predict just exactly how United are going to line up against Raith.
Several positions can, barring fitness concerns, be taken as read. Cammy Bell remains undisputed first-choice keeper and deservedly so.
In front of him, while there are options, it would be a surprise if the central defensive partnership against Raith isn’t William Edjenguele and Mark Durnan. They did well last term so it’s a case of if it ain’t broke . . .
Who’ll line up in the full-back positions is less certain. On the right there’s a choice between Stewart Murdoch and Lewis Toshney, while on the left another of the new men, Tam Scobbie, and Jamie Robson are the contenders.
Ahead of them two more of the recent arrivals in Billy King and Paul McMullan will operate down the flanks and, if the manager sticks with his preferred 4-2-3-1 set-up from last season, Willo Flood will continue as one of the midfield anchors.
Then the prediction problems really start. Kid Scott Allardice could sit in beside Flood but so could the attack-minded Scott Fraser.
Although Fraser is thought of more as a “No 10”, using him deeper would allow James Keatings to take on the central role in the advanced midfield three — a position in which he’s excelled in the past.
With new striker Patrick N’Koyi still building fitness, though, it could be for now Keatings is used right up top and Fraser slots in just behind.