Billy Dodds believes it is the players who face the biggest test in adjusting to their new environment in Scottish football.
The coronavirus pandemic brought last season to an early end and the new campaign begins this weekend with the effects still being felt as clubs begin a new campaign playing behind closed doors.
The biggest game of the opening weekend is Saturday’s match at Pittodrie where Aberdeen host Rangers.
For Dodds, who played for both clubs, the contrast from previous passionate Pittodrie encounters and the serene nature of this weekend’s encounter could not be starker.
He said: “It’s the players who will be affected the most by this. They are the ones who thrive on the full house, the atmosphere that greets them when they emerge from the tunnel and the roar which greets the referee’s whistle to start the game.
“It’s going to be a huge adjustment for the players.
“Putting my player’s head back on for a second I loved nothing more than playing in front of a crowd in a big game. I was lucky to play on both sides of the Aberdeen v Rangers fixture and those games were massive. It will be interesting to see if the players still provide the fireworks in an empty stadium.
“It’s going to be very strange there’s no doubt about it. It’s not ideal and we’d all love nothing more than to see the fans back inside the grounds around the country as football is better with the roar of the crowd and that passion from the fans.
“But football with no supporters is better than no football at all and if we’ve all learned anything in these last four months it is how much we’ve missed it.
“It’s our national sport and I don’t think any of us will take football for granted again after this.”
While players face a seismic adjustment as they play in front of no-one Dodds believes the fans forced to become armchair viewers will handle the change easily.
He said: “From the games I’ve watched on TV the sound of the crowd in the background has certainly made it a more enjoyable viewing experience. If we’re going to continue that in the Premiership games on TV then I think the fans will be fine.
“That’s the important part here. The fans who want to watch the game will still be able to. They may not get into their team’s stadium but they can still watch their team in action on a screen so the experience will be quite normal.”
For Aberdeen, a new season brings a renewed attempt to close the gap on Celtic and Rangers. For Glasgow’s big two clubs the new campaign will be defined by one thing only – the destination of the title.
For Dodds, the pressure is on the blue half of Glasgow to deliver.
He said: “It’s a remarkable season without the coronavirus as there is extra pressure on Rangers and Celtic in every game they play as the focus falls on 10-in-a-row.
“For me, there is more pressure on Rangers to stop Celtic from a 10th title. All their eggs are in this one basket.
“When Rangers equalled the nine-in-row it was a historic moment and one we didn’t think we would see again but here we are with Celtic now on the cusp of a 10th championship.
“They will be feeling the pressure to deliver too but as a player I’d be feeling much more comfortable going into a new season with a team which has delivered nine league titles in a row than being the club charged with the task of being the team to try to stop it.”