With the end of the season fast approaching – the last nine months have gone ever so quickly – minds are already turning to the 2016/17 campaign.
This is the time when the guessing game starts about who is leaving, who will arrive, what the budget will be.
Such questions are being asked at clubs everywhere; forget putting the flip-flops on for the summer, it is a thinking cap that you need.
Over the next few weeks we shall see retained lists, speculation, gossip, arrivals and departures.
Speaking to Preston boss Simon Grayson on Thursday, he has got his wanted list of summer targets.
There are names on an ‘A’ list, so too alternative choices should initial choices not materialise.
Nothing unusual in that, after all not even the biggest clubs get everyone they want.
It is an important summer of shopping for Grayson and the PNE hierarchy as they ready themselves for a second season in the Championship.
Supposedly the second year in a division is similar to that ‘difficult’ second album for musicians.
Potentially, North End have five loan players to replace.
It might be that some of the quintet stay but for now, they belong elsewhere.
So that is a starting point for the summer business, with further quality and numbers needed to take the squad up another rung or two.
Will the squad need to be slightly bigger, taking into account the emergency window has been boarded up?
Maybe it will, although only twice did the Lilywhites trade in the 93-day market this season – initially for Adam Reach and also when bringing in Paddy McCarthy.
The balance has to be struck between having sufficient numbers available and overloading a squad which can have a detrimental affect.
If players are stockpiled on a ‘rainy-day basis’ with little chance of seeing action, that can lead to morale issues.
Grayson did not play the numbers game this season, running with fewer players than he did in League One.
So I doubt we will see a bloated squad after the summer.
The business which PNE do at either end of the pitch is that which will come under the most scrutiny.
At the top end, you would argue that two strikers are needed.
Take Eoin Doyle out of the equation as he is Cardiff’s player, Jermaine Beckford, Joe Garner and Jordan Hugill remain – with Stevie May to come back from extensive knee surgery as the season progresses.
Beckford is feeling his way back to full fitness after himself being on the operating table, while Garner has not set the division alight.
Hugill is a work in progress, hence the need for a couple of reinforcements.
Moving to the other penalty box, the goalkeeper situation is a big one to sort out.
Sam Johnstone and Anders Lindegaard are two who readily spring to mind.
To coin a BBC phrase though, other keepers are available, and who they land will be interesting.
What else is required then, where are they short?
Another defender and a winger, cover at left-back too.
Midfield would seem one area where PNE could maybe hold-off for the time being.
January’s recruitment of Ben Pearson and Liam Grimshaw was partly done with an eye on next season.
They have Paul Gallagher, Daniel Johnson, Alan Browne and John Welsh for company, Neil Kilkenny and Josh Brownhill too – although the latter pair are out of contract this summer.
Welsh’s game time has been reduced this season but I would keep him at Deepdale for next term.
He might not be a regular starter but there is room for his game in the squad.
Welsh was just what North End were crying out for last week against Burnley.
An early injury for Pearson meant he never got the chance to go toe-to-toe with Joey Barton and Dean Marney.
Had Welsh not been ruled out with a calf strain, he could have provided that physical presence.
That said, I thought Johnson was decent after coming off the bench early doors, looking more like himself than he had done in some games of late.
Meanwhile, the travelling is almost done for the season, the trip to Reading the last away game of the season.
The motorway and railway has taken us to 23 away league games and two more in the two cup competitions.
Until August, goodbye to overpriced service station snacks and chilly platforms.