A new Premier League season began in August, its arrival made official on opening weekend when the Match of the Day theme tune rang out for the first time in months; but as far as Football Manager's army of fanatics is concerned, it's still pre-season.
The beautiful game's 2018 edition has just arrived in beta form, for those who had the foresight to pre-order their copy, giving the initiated a good reason to put their life's priorities on hold early and developer SI Games the chance to iron out any bugs ahead of the big kick-off lin November.
Naturally, most beta players will have taken charge of their favourite team. They know the squad well, have a firm grasp of the tactics their club usually employs and a good idea of what aspects of the team need to improve.
This is just one way of playing it safe in Football Manager, and another is taking charge of a shark in a goldfish bowl. The Paris Saint-Germains, Celtics and Bayern Munichs of this world - anyone who heads up one of these dominant giants is unlikely to go the way of Frank de Boer or Ronald Koeman in their first season.
But most budding managers in their bedroom dugouts will soon start yearning for a challenge, and luckily FM18 is packed with them, from sleeping giants begging to be awakened, to mid-table mainstays with world-class youth facilities just waiting to be mined, and newly-promoted minnows with the odds stacked against them.
These are the challenges that separate the Guardiolas from the Mike Bassetts.