LAST SEASON: 2nd, 63 points
NOTABLE INS: Fraser Kerr (Birmingham City), Paul Lawson (Ross County), Stephen McManus (Middlesbrough), Gunnar Nielsen (Silkeborg), John Sutton (Heart of Midlothian), Iain Vigurs (Ross County), Henri Anier (Viking, loan)
NOTABLE OUTS: Henrik Ojamaa (Legia Warsaw, £300k), Michael Higdon (NEC Nijmegen), Chris Humphrey (Preston North End), Nicky Law (Rangers), Darren Randolph (Birmingham City), Steven Saunders (Ross County), Kallum Higginbotham (Huddersfield Town, end of loan), Omar Daley, Tom Hateley, Steven Hetherington
LAST SEASON'S BEST XI (departed players crossed out):
THE SQUAD (u-21 players in italics)
Goalkeepers: Lee Hollis, Gunnar Nielsen, Ross Stewart
Defenders: Adam Cummins, Zaine Francis-Angol, Steven Hammell, Shaun Hutchinson, Fraser Kerr, Stephen McManus, Simon Ramsden
Midfielders: Stuart Carswell, Keith Lasley, Paul Lawson, Iain Vigurs
Forwards: Henri Anier, James McFadden, Robert McHugh, John Sutton
IF HE GETS INJURED, THEY'RE SCREWED: With all that attacking talent departed, the retention of JAMES MCFADDEN was a big coup, particularly as the former national team talisman looked like he was getting back to his very best form. Motherwell will offer twice the threat with him in the side.
STAR OF THE FUTURE? A bit-part player for a couple of years, tidy midfielder STUART CARSWELL now has the chance to force his way into the team. Given the lack of options in that area, he's likely to see much more action than in previous seasons.
THE SEASON AHEAD: Last season was one of the best at Fir Park in recent memory, but the success of the campaign only resulted in other clubs sniffing around 'Well's talented free agents. Gone are Player of the Year and SPL top scorer Michael Higdon, Estonian international Henrik Ojamaa, flying winger Chris Humphrey, midfield string-puller Nicky Law, right-back and set-piece specialist Tom Hateley and excellent goalkeeper Darren Randolph. That's a lot of holes to fill. Stuart McCall has plugged a few of them - the defence, last season's weak point, might actually be stronger after the return to Scotland of Stephen McManus - and the team will score goals as long as James McFadden is on the park Are they good enough to finish second again though?
THE BEST XI?
There still seems to be a lack of a natural right-back or right-winger - either Ramsden or Kerr, both central defenders normally, will shuffle across to cover the former position, but I expect McCall would prefer to deploy McFadden just off Sutton rather than out wide, so maybe Carswell could play on the right of midfield and tuck in. Alternatively Francis-Angol could be pushed into a left midfield role with Vigurs in a more attacking central position where he often played for Ross County. Anier should provide competition up front, and may even be used in a pairing with Sutton should McCall opt for 4-4-2. Nielsen will be a decent replacement for Randolph in goal, while the rest of the back four looks strong and Lasley and Lawson will provide good protection for them.
THE BOSS: If there is such an accolade as "Freedom of Motherwell" then Stuart McCall has more than earned it after taking the club to two consecutive top three finishes, and declining the overtures of Sheffield United this summer. There's not too much intricacy about his tactics, but he seems to know how to get the best out of his players. It will be interesting to see if he departs from the 4-4-2 which was so successful in the second half of last season.
CLICHE YOU'RE MOST LIKELY TO HEAR: "always a threat going forward"
PREDICTION: It would be a surprise if Motherwell didn't take a step backwards this season - but it may only be a baby step. There's still some very good players here. There isn't much depth, but that didn't hold them back last year. I don't think THIRD is out of the question at all.