Optimism reigns after 2 years of doom-mongers
THERE may have been some puzzled looks on the faces of Swansea City fans as they read national newspapers and tuned into radio phone-ins in recent weeks.
For once, pre-season previews were full of pundits tipping the Swans to prosper in the new campaign.
Having been identified as prime relegation candidates for their first term in the Premier League, and then written off as inevitable 'Second Season Syndrome' sufferers last year, Swansea have grown accustomed to proving their doubters wrong.
This campaign, however, will pose a new problem: dealing with higher expectations.
A number of experts believe Swansea could finish as high as seventh this season and, if they are to make that leap, one area where they will have to keep improving is their away form.
Sunday's trip to Tottenham will be Swansea's first away game of the season, and a daunting one at that.
Spurs have been among the top flight's biggest spenders over the summer, splurging around £100 million on the likes of Paulinho and Roberto Soldado.
Andre Villas-Boas's side are particularly strong at home, winning 11 and losing only three of their 19 Premier League fixtures at White Hart Lane last term.
Swansea's last two visits there have ended in defeat, losing 1-0 last December and 3-1 during the 2011-12 campaign.
But, encouragingly for Swansea, their overall away form in the Premier League improved between their first and second seasons at that level.
Under Brendan Rodgers, they had to wait until January 2012 before claiming their first victory on the road, a 2-0 triumph over Aston Villa.
Swansea ended that campaign with four wins, four draws and 11 defeats from their 19 away outings for a tally of 16 points, while they picked up 31 at home.
The contrast could hardly have been starker last season, as Michael Laudrup got off the mark immediately with a stunning 5-0 thrashing of Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road on the opening day.
The overall total was better too, with the Swans notching up five wins, five draws and nine losses to yield 20 points, compared to 26 at the Liberty Stadium.
Although they ended the season with one point fewer than they had from their debut Premier League campaign, Swansea did make progress in the league table, trumping their 11th-place finish from the 2011-12 season by ending the next one in ninth.
Now there is a widely-held belief among many outside the club that Swansea can make a similar jump this season and overtake the likes of Everton and West Brom.
Laudrup's men will be overwhelming underdogs at White Hart Lane on Sunday, and a point or more would be a major confidence boost.
A defeat would by no means be a disaster, as the Swans themselves recognised following their 4-1 reverse at the hands of Manchester United last weekend.
Losing to Tottenham would not alter much for Laudrup and his players, but it could change the minds of a few pundits and their views on Swansea.
And as they have demonstrated in the past, the Swans are often at their best when they have a point to prove.