The takeover of Paris Saint-Germain by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) earlier this summer will have sent shivers through the ranks of their Ligue 1 rivals.
A supremely competitive league typically won by well-run clubs fielding well-drilled teams, the French top flight suddenly finds itself bestridden by a financial colossus.
Despite initial uncertainty over the club's management structure, Leonardo's confirmation as sporting director last month sparked a glut of transfers that has turned the perennial under-achievers into the biggest attraction in town.
Fourth last season, narrowly missing out on a Champions League place to Lyon, and French Cup runners-up to Lille, PSG will embark on the 2011-12 campaign with serious designs on a first league title since 1994.
"It's true that the investments made give us responsibilities," said coach Antoine Kombouare last week -- a tacit admission that Champions League qualification will be a minimum requirement.
The Qatari revolution in the capital has cast something of a shadow over Lille's preparations to defend the league and cup crowns they won in such scintillating fashion three months ago.
Rudi Garcia's slick side have lost three of their key elements, with Adil Rami completing a move to Valencia, Gervinho joining Arsenal and Yohan Cabaye making an unexpected switch to Newcastle United.
Lille did not tarry in the transfer market, however, as Marko Basa (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne) and Benoit Pedretti (Auxerre) were swiftly brought in as like-for-like replacements.
Crucially, Belgian winger Eden Hazard -- last year's player of the season -- has ignored the fluttering eyelashes of Europe's glamour clubs to commit himself to Lille for another season.
"We've worked a lot to integrate the new players," said Garcia.
"We'll need time for the mayonnaise to set but we also need to be capable of making up any shortfalls with our intelligence."
Lille would have started the season with a piece of silverware had it not been for an injury-time meltdown in the Champions Trophy against Marseille.
Leading 3-1 with five minutes to play in the season's curtain-raiser in Tangiers, Morocco last week, Lille fell 3-4 down before equalising through Basa, only for Andre Ayew to give OM victory via a 95th-minute penalty.
Ligue 1's notoriously defensive reputation means there are unlikely to be many more 5-4 results this season, but the fightback will have given hope to Marseille that they can put last season's disappointments behind them.
Didier Deschamps' team may have retained their League Cup crown, beating Montpellier 1-0 in April's final, but their second-place league finish belied a season in which the defending champions never hit their stride.
New signings have been conspicuous by their absence at Stade Gerland, however, as OL go back to basics following a succession of transfer splurges that failed to yield an upturn in fortunes on the pitch.
Bordeaux, seventh last season, will begin the new campaign under new management as well, Francis Gillot having replaced Jean Tigana -- who resigned in May -- after guiding Sochaux to a shock fifth-place finish last term.
Ligue 1 lost sporting royalty in May when Monaco succumbed to relegation after 34 successive years in the top flight.
Evian, Dijon and Ajaccio have joined the elite and although the financial backing of Danone CEO Franck Riboud means the former have a fighting chance of avoiding the drop, Dijon and Ajaccio are likely to find life much harder.
Source: AFP Global Edition