In the latest jog through the honor divisions in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, we'll check in on the runners up from last season.
As usual, we'll rank these long offseason clubs by their current proximity to the title as we head toward the back stretch.
#5 - Les Enfants Schizophrenique
There's a very good reason Marseille start our chart in the pity spot: they cannot seem to decide what kind of season they'd like to have. After drawing the final three games to finish second last season, L'OM opened this term the same way. It was part of a stumble from the blocks that saw them win just once in the first 10 games.
Just when nine wins from eleven seemed to put them back in longshot contention, Marseille were set for three of four at home. After blowing an early two-goal lead to settle for a Lyon draw, they've gone another three games without a win, including a 1-0 defeat to guests Toulouse this weekend in a game they easily carried throughout.
Now 16 points off the top in eighth, Marseille will try to gain traction for the Europa League mad dash in a stretch with three of four away... so I'll see you in four weeks when we discuss their "surprising" hot streak.
#4 - How do you solve a problem like Claudio?
Like Marseille, Inter Milan are a big club suffering from split personality disorder. Believe it or not, the Nerazzurri are winless in seven, with five defeats in that span.
At least they scored in this weekend's galling home draw with Catania. Late rally strikes from Diegos Forlan and Milito not only earned Inter's Serie A point in over a month, it ended their jaw-dropping 453-minute goal drought.
If that wasn't bad enough, Claudio Rainieri's sinking ship were shutout as they dropped from the Coppa Italia and beaten 1-0 in their Champions League tie opener at Marseille.
Despite it all, no one can fault Milito. He's scored eight of Inter's last nine league goals and 11 in the last 11 games.
#3 - Headaches, Inc.
With three straight wins, including a 2-0 derby heist at FC Cologne and a 3-0 slapping of Bayern Munich, one would guess things are all smiles these days at Bayer Leverkusen. Guess again.
The club are still six points behind last season's pace through 24 games and, at 15, are eight points further behind Borussia Dortmund than they were at this stage in their second place finish last season.
Those three straight wins were needed to hold off a warming crowd after their Europa League position of fifth, as well as for staying in for the Champions League spots above. After the Barcelona decider (if you can call it that) and a visit from Wolfsburg, Bayer will take aim consecutively at third place 'Gladbach and fourth place Schalke - both rival clubs from their area.
On top of all that, they are surely set to lose Rene Adler and Tranquilo Barnetta on summer freebies after season both may almost entirely miss through injury. Top attacker Sidney Sam is also probably out for their upcoming Champions League miracle try against 3-1 first leg winner Barcelona.
In other words, no, toothy grins are not flying around BayArena these days.
#2 - Cafe Latte Twente
If you smelled something that faintly smelled of burnt earth and cream around the Eindhoven area on Sunday, don't worry, there is not a new fancy overpriced coffee franchise opening nearby. That was just FC Twente slow roasting first place PSV into a big cup.
The Farmers were ambushed at home by four goals in the opening 40 minutes. After Twente went down a man due to a red card shown top defender Douglas, the visitors responded to both PSV goals with another of their own for a 6-2 win.
While the margin may have been a surprise, the result was not so much. By extended their Philips Stadion win streak to two and unbeaten run there to five, the Tukkers hopped over PSV to within a point of leaders AZ.
Certainly not lost in the fanfare is the fact that striker Luuk de Jong was one of six scorers at PSV, hitting in his ninth straight league game. He has 13 in that span, dating back to (oddly enough) an early December 6-2 win at FC Utrecht.
#1 - The Special One Theory
I hate to come off like Sheldon Cooper, but unless you fully realize the La Liga title race has been over since Barcelona lost to Osasuna a month ago, I'm way smarter than you. Even if Real Madrid were ones to blow big league leads (they aren't), Jose Mourinho doesn't blow championships.
Yet to win a league crown at Bernabeu, The Special One knows how to back one into the garage better than just about anybody in the business. Check the logs.
He went two for two at Inter, grabbing the flag early and running 10 points off from Juventus in year one. The second required five straight wins to close for besting a pesky AS Roma side.In England, he won titles the first two of three years by an average of 10 points, grabbing first place by round 12 in each season and never letting go. And yeah, how do you think things went down in Portugal with Porto?
Real lead Barcelona by 10 points with 13 games left, which clearly means It's over. Naturally, the Blancos will get beaten at Camp Nou - perhaps even brutally. So what? Mourinho has it and he is not letting go.
You know it and I know it... well... at the least, I know it.
Ajax has released their away soccer jersey for the 2013/14 season. Get in the Gear.
The Liverpool 2013/14 soccer jersey is available for pre-order. The Reds are eager to compete for silver next season.
The new PUMA evoSPEED 1.2 FG. A great new soccer cleat with classic look and first time for PUMA to be on the cleat.
Bayern Munich are kings of Germany and hope to be crowned kings of Europe at Wembley later this month!
adidas has added some color to the Predator line with this new colorway. Released on May 17. Be the first to own a pair.
The push for more color on their cleats, adidas has added the infrared colorway to the adiZero f50 Line.
The adidas Nitrocharge is the most talked about new cleat in years. It was released on May 15 and will take your pitch by storm.
One of the top soccer cleats for control the Nike CTR360 will not let you down on the field in tight spaces.
Borussia Dortmund hears Wembley Calling and are headed to London for the Champions League final.
The Juventus jersey for the 2013/14 was released earlier this week. Be the first to wear the colors of the Old Lady.