NORMALLY, a summer in which Everton cashed in on one of their homegrown talents and spent nothing on their only new face would be greeted with howls of anguish from the Goodison fanbase.
But rather than gnash their teeth, supporters are rubbing their hands in cautious anticipation of the new campaign.
Such has been the shift in perceptions at Everton, helped by yet another strong end to a season and the permanent capture of the player who proved a driving inspiration behind their spring revival.
David Moyes had made signing of Steven Pienaar his highest priority after the South African’s outstanding performances on his loan return during the second half of last season.
In that sense, the close season can be deemed a success for Everton.
The harsh financial realities at Goodison meant there would inevitably be one significant departure to help appease the club’s creditors.
However, that it was Jack Rodwell and not Marouane Fellaini nor Leighton Baines who was deemed expendable was met with a grudging acceptance from the majority of supporters, especially given the proviso Moyes will be given at least half of the £12million up-front payment to reinvest in the squad.
Talk of a loan move for Manchester City winger Adam Johnson persists, along with whispers concerning Michael Owen, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.
That Moyes will be leading the team into an 11th consecutive campaign was far from a certainty earlier this year.
As the Scot celebrated a decade in charge in March, the winds of change were swirling around the Goodison manager.
Unsurprising, given his demeanour betrayed that of someone who had grown weary of the constant battle against the odds to keep Everton among the top eight clubs in the Premier League.
Those winds grew stronger once Harry Redknapp departed Tottenham Hotspur and Moyes was instantly made favourite for the job.
Except it didn’t happen.
The Londoners turned to Andre Villas-Boas, and as other windows of opportunity became unavailable, so it became apparent Moyes would be staying put.
Great news for Bill Kenwright and the Goodison board who, until significant new investment is found, are reliant on their manager’s transfer creativity and continued ability to make the sum greater than the parts.
With a fortnight remaining in the transfer window, fingers will remain crossed there are no further major departures.
To lose one senior player is unfortunate; to lose a second would smack as carelessness and bring supporters’ fears back to the surface.
Every player, though, has a price, and Moyes will have no qualms with parting with the likes of John Heitinga or Victor Anichebe should the offer be acceptable.
If Everton enjoy a successful season, then a significant debt of gratitude will be owed to the financial problems of another club.
The reasons for January’s £5.5m steal of Nikica Jelavic from Rangers became apparent with the complete meltdown of the Scottish giants, who went into administration and were then liquidated.
That allowed Moyes to return north of the border to snaffle Steven Naismith on a free transfer, the striker having refused his new contract be moved over to the newco Rangers, who find themselves in the Scottish fourth tier.
Despite Naismith having not played a competitive game since October due to a cruciate ligament injury, it’s a gamble worth taking, particularly if the Scotland international can rekindle his partnership with Jelavic that proved so profitable at Ibrox; the striker’s half-hour hat-trick against AEK Athens last week the perfect way to ingratiate himself to the Goodison faithful.