Caley Thistle once again approach the Championship season fresh from falling short in the Betfred Cup, but that disappointment will quickly be forgotten if John Robertson can oversee another successful league campaign.
Reaching last season’s play-offs will give Inverness fresh drive to succeed in their promotion bid this time around, and their campaign begins at the scene where their dreams were shattered in May when they return to Tannadice to face Dundee United this weekend.
United and their newly-relegated near neighbours Dundee are the early-season favourites to claim top spot, and Caley Jags’ head-to-head record against both teams will go a long way towards determining how seriously they can challenge.
Against all opposition however it goes without saying Inverness must turn more draws into victories. Although Caley Jags proved difficult to beat last season, the 14 matches they drew last season limited their prospects of running eventual winners Ross County closer.
Robertson has identified the final third as an area in need of new options, with Nikolay Todorov likely to compete with Jordan White for the central attacking role. Although the two will enjoy a fair duel, Bulgarian Todorov’s arrival will also alleviate the burden on White who played every game on his way to finishing leading scorer last term.
The addition of the vastly-experienced James Keatings looks likely to provide Robertson with flexibility given his ability to play as a second striker or out wide, and he knows what it takes to get out of the second-tier following promotion-winning experience with Hamilton, Hearts and Hibernian.
Mitch Curry will be eager to impress after joining on loan from Middlesbrough, and the onus will be on Caley Thistle’s creative forces out wide, Aaron Doran and Tom Walsh, to supply the frontline.
Robertson’s midfield changes have been somewhat forced upon him given the departures of Liam Polworth and Joe Chalmers, however he has acted quickly by bringing in James Vincent and David Carson. Scottish Cup final hero Vincent is no stranger to Caley Jags supporters, however the early signs point to a deeper role for the Englishman than in his first spell, while Carson looks to be a hard-working and energetic force in the middle.
The solid defensive platform, backed up by Mark Ridgers in goals, has remained largely intact. Two years on from their relegation, Inverness are familiar with what it takes in the Championship, and if they continue their trend of gradual improvement they will be right in the mix.
Key man: Aaron Doran