The end of the season always throws up a range of questions for supporters as the dust settles on the campaign just finished.
At Caley Thistle, it was a strange Championship season – including a switch of bosses in unusual circumstances – yet the team almost reached their target of the Premiership promotion play-offs, ultimately finishing one place off the pace in fifth.
Here we look at 10 quandaries the ICT fans might well be pondering this summer as the club prepare for another tilt at getting back into the top flight.
Who will replace John Robertson as manager?
Manager John Robertson was granted time away from the club on compassionate grounds in February.
This led to Neil McCann taking interim charge and he guided the club to the brink of the promotion play-offs.
Before leaving Caley Thistle, McCann was hopeful Robbo would be ready to return for the new campaign.
The club is pleased to be able to announce the return of John Robertson to Caledonian Stadium as our first ever Sporting Director.
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) May 13, 2021
However, news that Robertson will be back, but as the club’s first sporting director, has opened the door for change and a new boss.
Who will be the assistant and first-team coaches next term?
Like boss John Robertson, assistant Scott Kellacher was given time away from the club to recover from what was described as a serious illness.
The expectation was the experienced coach will be back at the Caledonian Stadium, rejoining his fellow coaches Barry Wilson and Ryan Esson. However, a new manager may bring in his own backroom team.
North-based ex-Scotland striker Billy Dodds, who was brought in to help Neil McCann, is currently not expected to be part of the coaching group for next season. This was a short-term arrangement set up by the interim ICT manager.
Which players are out of contract?
The list of those whose contracts end this summer include skipper Sean Welsh, top-scorer Nikolay Todorov, James Vincent, Brad McKay, Kevin McHattie, Aaron Doran, Miles Storey and Cammy Mackay.
🔥🔥🔥Daniel Mackay's goal against Ross County on Friday Night!
Posted by Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC on Sunday, April 4, 2021
Big scoring seasons in store for striking trio?
Nikolay Todorov was the top Inverness scorer with 11 goals all in, with a real flourish in the second half of the season.
That was two more than Daniel MacKay, whose loss could be a sore one. Shane Sutherland, who rejoined the club last summer from Elgin City, netted six times and he’ll be eager to up his tally, as will Miles Storey, who only scored three goals last term.
Sutherland has just signed a one-year extension, so we can look forward to seeing him kick on from July,
There’s little doubt more competition is needed up top if the side are to be at the Championship summit by the final whistle in 2021/22.
With Todorov and Storey out of contract at the end of the month, securing them will be high on the agenda.
Could David Carson help lead ICT even without the armband?
Sean Welsh is the Caley Thistle captain and there’s little doubt when he plays to form his team-mates follow suit.
One player picked out though as a future skipper is midfielder-turned-full-back David Carson, who has pledged his future to the club until 2024.
While Welsh can still lead by example, will the influence of Carson, boosted by his new contract, be just as powerful in driving the team on?
What will the fanbase at Inverness look like in terms of numbers?
Like most supporters, the Inverness fans will be looking forward to getting back to seeing live football.
Before the pandemic, Caley Thistle sat mid-table for average attendances in the Championship at 2117.
So will the long-awaited chance to get back into the stands to cheer on the team give these numbers a boost?
Can Caley Thistle turn draws into precious victories?
Interim manager Neil McCann helped guide ICT up to fifth spot and in the end they were only three points shy of the promotion play-offs.
However, they drew 12 of their 27 fixtures overall, which was the highest stalemate figure in the division.
That creative spark, perhaps from a fit-again Aaron Doran, could turn the tide and make all the difference to their final league position in 2021/22.
Can ICT improve their Caledonian Stadium results?
They only won three times at home, and yet drew eight times and lost twice.
Too many teams walked away with shares of the spoils against Inverness at home and that will have to change.
In contrast, they were the third-best team on the road last season in the second tier.
Will the joint Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup holders get their hands on the silverware again?
Only now are fans being granted permission in very limited numbers to attend games, so these two rivals got one hand each on the trophy.
This tournament, formerly called the Challenge Cup, has changed from a lower league knock-out competition to one which includes English, Welsh and Irish competition and splits opinion.
Including this latest “triumph”, Caley Thistle have won it three times, with only Falkirk winning it more often, with four final victories.
What are Caley Thistle’s chances of winning the league?
There is no major force like Hearts or Dundee United to contend with, so that should ensure no one club runs away with it.
Should Kilmarnock drop out of the Premiership, they’d be instant favourites to go back up, while Ross County – who need one point at Motherwell on Sunday to stay up – would be gunning for a swift return.
This season’s Championship runners-up Dundee are in a commanding position to reach the play-off final following their 3-0 first leg win at Raith Rovers in midweek.
Partick Thistle coming up as League One champions heightens competition though. You only need to look at how play-off finalists Raith Rovers coped with that step up a year ago.
Depending on who ICT’s new manager can keep and sign, they should go in with a degree of confidence.