Serie A season predictions: Juventus' game-changers fuel title tilt
AC Milan upset the odds in Italy last season to claim their first Serie A title since 2011, but an underwhelming summer of transfer activity casts doubt on their ability to retain the Scudetto.
Dethroned champions Inter Milan and 2021-22 runners-up Juventus have strengthened in a bid to return to the top, while a rebuilt Roma under Jose Mourinho could make their presence felt for the first time in six years.
Genoa's 15-year stay in the top tier came to an end last May, so there will be no Derby della Lanterna to enjoy this season.
But three new teams with fresh ideas and styles came up from Serie B with Cremonese back after a 26-year hiatus and Monza making it to the big time for the first time in the club's history.
Milan's midfield marvels
Undefeated since their mid-January slip-up against Spezia, the Rossoneri roared to the title in the manner of their emblematic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
But, in truth, the Swede was merely a bit-part player in a successful formula designed around Milan's marvellous midfield.
Sandro Tonali, Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer were a perfectly-balanced trio for Stefano Pioli's grand plan with Rade Krunic a capable understudy for the Algerian when he missed out through injury, illness or African Cup of Nations duty.
Kessie waved goodbye to the fans and left on a free transfer in the summer and his boots will be huge ones to fill at the San Siro Stadium.
Old favourite returns to the Old Lady's side
Paul Pogba's return to Turin could be a major game-changer for Juventus if Massimiliano Allegri can provide the perfect midfield foil.
Pogba failed to live up to expectations at Manchester United, but the Red Devils never had a good enough defensive midfielder to bring out the best in him such as France had with N'Golo Kante or Juve did the first time around with Andrea Pirlo.
Manuel Locatelli and Dennis Zakaria are in pole position to hold down the midfield pivot positions in Allegri's system with Pogba set to play ahead in a trequartista role between Federico Chiesa and another ex-Old Trafford flop, Angel Di Maria.
Ahead of them, Juventus will have Dusan Vlahovic, now Serie A's biggest talent and one of the main contenders to be crowned the Capocannoniere.
A mid-season arrival from Fiorentina, the Serbian took time to find his groove but should thrive on the chances likely to be created for him by Serie A's most exciting attacking midfield trio.
Lukaku back 'home' and Mourinho rejuvenating Roma
Two figures looking to rebuild their reputations after difficult times in the Premier League are worth keeping an eye on with Romelu Lukaku back at Inter and Mourinho masterminding Roma's revival.
Belgian hitman Lukaku scored 64 goals in 95 appearances for the Nerazzurri before circumstances dictated that he returned to Chelsea.
And if Inter coach Simone Inzaghi can harness his talents the way his predecessor Antonio Conte did then the former champions, who will boast one of the surest defences in Italy, should be challenging again.
Mourinho delivered silverware to the capital in his first season with the Giallorossi, but turning Roma from also-rans to title contenders may be beyond even his remarkable powers.
Tammy Abraham, who ended the season with 20-plus goals in all competitions, became a cornerstone piece of his rebuild last year and Roma rivalled Inter for the most effective set-piece unit in Serie A with 17 goals from dead ball situations.
Sampdoria still on dangerous ground
Sampdoria flirted with the drop again last season but ultimately stayed up on 36 points, their lowest final tally in a decade.
I Blucerchiati have spent next to nothing on recruitment this summer while banking significant sums as midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard joined Brentford and strikers Gianluca Caprari and Federico Bonazzoli moved to Hellas Verona and Salernitana respectively.
The Genovese side are likely to be right in the relegation mix again this season, along with all three promoted clubs from Serie B.
Of that trio, Serie A debutants Monza could prove to be the best equipped to stay up after a busy transfer window that has brought in reliable performers like Andrea Ranocchia, Stefano Sensi, Matteo Pessina, Marlon, Alessio Cragno, Andrea Carboni and Gianluca Caprari.