St Johnstone haven’t even boarded a plane for Istanbul but already the next stage of their European adventure has been mapped out following two mouth-watering draws in Nyon.
While Callum Davidson’s immediate focus is shooting down Galatasaray, the Perth side now know what lies in wait, regardless of the outcome against the Turks.
Serbia, Israel or Austria will be the next destination ticked off – and the third of those may just be the one setting alarm bells ringing.
First things first, who will they face if they beat Galatasaray and who will they face if they lose?
It’s Randers FC of Denmark in the former and the winners of the game between Serbian side Vojvodina Novi Sad and LASK of Austria in the latter.
So what can you tell us about Randers?
They sound like the Danish answer to St Johnstone, albeit they were only founded in 2003 (as a merger of six local clubs).
Randers play at Cepheus Park, which has a virtually identical capacity to McDiarmid Park – 10,300.
This will be their sixth European campaign in recent years, the same as Saints.
Both have won their country’s main knock-out competition twice, both lifted that trophy last season (just the one cup for Randers) and both have yet to make the group stages of the Europa League.
Nicknamed The Horses, they were sixth in the league, compared to Saints’ fifth place.
Randers are top of the table after three games this season thanks to two wins and a draw.
They have had a couple of well-known managers down the years.
Colin Todd pitched up there for a couple of seasons and was replaced by Euro 92 hero John Jensen.
A good draw for Saints and Galatasaray?
Definitely. As good as you have any right to expect, that’s for sure – especially when you look at the other options.
AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands), Zorya Luhansk (Ukraine), Royal Antwerp (Belgium) and Sturm Graz (Austria) all have stronger credentials.
It gets a bit more complicated if Saints get knocked out by Galatasaray, doesn’t it?
We’re into either/or territory now.
Let’s start with Vojvodina Novi Sad.
Novi Sad is the second largest city in Serbia and the club is the third largest in the country – behind the Belgrade giants Red Star and Partizan.
They have a fascinating history dating back to 1914 when the newly-established side managed to play a mere one game before the First World War broke out.
In terms of Scottish football history, all Celtic fans will know that Vojvodina were defeated by Jock Stein’s men in 1967 on their way to European Cup glory.
There are plenty of honours to their name, several won in the peak years when they were part of the old Yugoslavia.
Dusan Tadic is one of the highest profile stars to start his career with Vojvodina.
They have tried and failed to get to the Europa League group stage on eight occasions and defeated FK Panevėžys of Lithuania 2-0 on aggregate to set-up their games against LASK as they seek to end that run.
What about LASK then?
Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub to give them their Sunday name were the first Austrian side outside of Vienna to win the top league, in 1965.
Their Linz home ground is the Waldstadion in Pasching but Saints would be likely to play them in the 21,000 capacity Linzer Stadion, where they host their European matches.
Dundee United beat LASK 7-2 on aggregate in the 1984/85 Uefa Cup while 10 years later Partick Thistle drew 2-2 with them in the Intertoto Cup.
A merger with city rivals FC Linz happened in 1997 but they nearly went bankrupt 15 years later and sunk as low as the third tier of Austrian football.
As with Saints, LASK are currently playing out their glory years.
For them it has meant back-to-back Europa League Group stages, getting to the last 16 when it took Manchester United to knock them out two years ago and drawing with Tottenham Hotspur last season.
LASK were fourth in the Austrian Bundesliga and cup runners-up to Red Bull Salzburg.
Which road is likelier to lead to the riches of European group football for Saints?
There’s a strong argument to say that Saints would have a better chance in the more prestigious competition.
St Johnstone v Randers in the Europa League play-off feels like a fair and winnable fight.
It would be a shock if LASK don’t take care of Vojvodina and they would be tougher opposition than the Danes.
The aggressive Gegenpressing style of Valérien Ismaël has been retained under Dominik Thalhammer and avoiding them would be as great a reward for Saints as taking the scalp of the mighty Galatasaray.