Chelsea pick up where they left off last season: on a high note at Wembley, where they beat Everton to lift the FA Cup and collected their first trophy since 2007. On the other hand, Manchester United's season ended in misery, as Barcelona knocked them off their European plinth by winning the Champions League final. Before that, however, it was business as usual, including the FIFA Club World Cup, Carling Cup and a Liverpool-equalling 18th league title.
The Community Shield is more often than not a cagey affair, but there just might be a bit more needle and an early power struggle this time around...
The punters are going mental for Chelsea in the lead-up to the new season, forking over their paper money to bookmakers all over the country and fully expecting to see a big return on their investment come the end of the new Premier League season.
The reasons for this are simple: Chelsea have managed to come out of a period of turmoil with a solid, well-balanced squad. They have match-winners and are full of belief, after enjoying a resurgence under last season's temporary gaffer Guus Hiddink. Now, still hungry after several high-profile 'close but no cigar' tournament conclusions, they've appointed a born winner in Carlo Ancelotti.
Add to this promising situation the fact that their rivals have taken something of a beating during this ultimate transfer market silly season, and you can see why the 'smart money' is on the Blues.
United They Stand
Manchester United certainly know how to put that Shield in the cabinet; for the last two seasons, the curtain raiser has kick-started what would become successful seasons. In 2007, the Red Devils beat Chelsea on penalties following a 1-1 draw, before doing the same to Portsmouth last term, after a goal-less stalemate.
Going back in time to assess United's record in the show-piece, we can see that they've gone through spells of negotiating the game with ease, followed by droughts. For example, they won it four times between 1993 and '97 but lost four on the trot from '98 to 2001. Still, they have the last two years on their side.
Now, they come into the new season without their free-scoring centre-piece Cristiano Ronaldo, who finally made his long-touted move to Real Madrid for mega money, and they are also without that little Argentine battler Carlos Tevez. The game against Chelsea is United's first chance to show that, with the rest of their squad in tact and a few modest signings added, they're still able to set the standard for the rest of the 'Big Four' to aim for.
18 July: Seattle Sounders W2-0 (Friendly)
22 July: Inter W2-0 (Friendly)
25 July: Milan W2-1 (Friendly)
27 July: Club America W2-0 (Friendly)
01 Aug: Reading D2-2 (Friendly)
18 July: Malaysian XI W3-2 (Friendly)
20 July: Malaysian XI W2-0 (Friendly)
24 July: FC Seoul W3-2 (Friendly)
26 July: Hangzhou Greentown W8-2 (Friendly)
29 July: Boca Juniors W2-1 (Audi Cup)
30 July: Bayern Munich L0-0 (pens) (Audi Cup)
05 Aug: Valencia W2-0 (Friendly)
Ancelotti's squad is still far from 100% fit, with Joe Cole and Paulo Ferreira crocked and new signing Yuri Zhirkov doubtful. Michael Ballack has also been struggling but could recover in time. Ross Turnbull and Daniel Sturridge could play their first competitive games for the Blues.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, A.Cole; Mikel, Essien, Lampard, Malouda; Anelka, Drogba.
Ferguson is not without his pre-game headaches either. Nemanja Vidic, Edwin van der Sar and Gary Neville are all out of action, meaning that Ben Foster or Tomasz Kuszczak will start between the sticks.
Newcomers Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia are poised to make their official debuts.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Foster; O'Shea, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs; Rooney, Berbatov.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chelsea will likely look to Didier Drogba, who loves doing the business at Wembley, to spearhead their front-line. The Ivorian will relish being bereft of injury woes at this stage of the summer and will look to start strongly. That's not to say that most eyes won't be on skipper John Terry, who rebuffed Man City to stay at Stamford Bridge, after a brief flirtation with the moneybags club.
Manchester United, meanwhile, will hope that Wayne Rooney can make a similar impact. 'CR7' has morphed into 'CR9' and has relocated to Madrid, and many feel that this season could be the making of Rooney. He's set to be the attacking focal point; he's likely to play more centrally; he has a World Cup to start thinking about. Can he live up to the expectations?
With six substitutions available to both gaffers, this one could be stop-start. In recent times these have been tight affairs, so I'll plump for Chelsea to exact some minor revenge for their penalty shoot-out loss to United in the 2007-08 Champions League final.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United