Last summer, Steve Bruce was left with what looked like a mountain to climb at Aston Villa.
Yet, despite his sacking further down the line, Villa eventually sorted themselves out.
In came new owners, Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris, as well as a new contract for Jack Grealish and the appointment of CEO Christian Purslow, once of Liverpool.
Before then, there was no CEO, there was no sporting director and money looked thin on the ground.
Therefore, to see Villa in the Premier League and seemingly financially stable just one year later is quite phenomenal.
It is a testament to the hard work Dean Smith has put in since he was appointed manager but there are arguably greater thanks owed to those behind the scenes.
Without Edens, Sawiris and company, the situation at the football club could have been far worse.
The recruitment in what has already been a busy summer of transfer activity is not only led by Smith, but Purslow and Jesus Garcia-Pitarch are also having a strong say on proceedings.
The groundwork, however, appears to be led by the latter two names, building on the type of philosophy that their head coach wants to work with.
Things may have played out very differently if they didn’t end the season so well, however.
Towards the climax of the 2018/19 term, Villa won ten games on the bounce as their momentum carried them to an eventual play-off final victory at Wembley.
There were many heroes. Jed Steer, of course, was the man of the moment at the Hawthorns whilst Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn popped up with the all-important goals in London.
Yet, Villa still needed to be careful. We saw what happened with Fulham last season, spending over £100m only for them to come crashing straight back down to earth.
It’s clear things weren’t very carefully thought out at Craven Cottage, but Villa appear to be different. They have a distinct approach, they know what they want and Purslow is already helping them deliver on that front.
So far the Villans have added a handful of new bodies to their playing squad, all players who should be solid additions on the face of it.
Villa supporters are already aware of the talents Kortney Hause and El Ghazi provide. The pair of them had their loan deals made permanent this summer after the former was particularly impressive in defence, winning 4.7 aerial duels per game.
The latter, on the other hand, was involved in 12 goals last term.
But that is symbolic of what Villa now are. Gone are the days of an inadequately run institute, they now mean business.
In an interview with BBC WM, Purslow made one key statement about the summer that was to come, saying: “This is when poorly run businesses and clubs make mistakes.
“This is the time to pause, apply a cold towel and contemplate carefully exactly what we need to do.”
And in many senses, that’s exactly what they’ve done. Besides speculation surrounding a potential deal for Adam Webster, a player Bristol City want £30m for, deal have been contemplated carefully.
They’ve been shrewd in their approach and that’s evident in the fact they’ve brought back two loan signings on permanent deals. They know the club, know the philosophy and are already familiar with the surroundings. Ahead of a return to the Premier League, that’s already two players who won’t need time to bed in.
However, there is a key promise that Purslow and Smith are also following up on, one that already has them ahead of what Fulham were trying to achieve last summer.
Further issuing his thoughts to the BBC, Villa’s CEO added: “On the recruitment side in particular, things have not been handled as I think they should be in the way our fans expect, which is for us to be a young exciting team and a team that over time establishes itself back in the Premier League.”
This is a pivotal point to understand in Villa’s transfer business so far. Out the door have gone the old heads of Micah Richards, Alan Hutton, Mile Jedinak and co, whilst younger individuals have arrived.
Hause, for example, is still only 23, whilst the recent addition of Matt Targett is the same age. He fits the profile of what Villa are looking for, and considering he was the fourth-best in terms of chance creation for full-backs in the Premier League last term, is without a doubt an exciting talent.
The club won’t pay out unless they are sure either. The most they’ve spent this summer has been £22m on Wesley Moraes, a Brazilian forward who has the ability to score and create, finding himself involved in 27 goals last term.
At the age of 22 he is a player who is every bit the type of signing that the club have promised. He’s young, hungry and, more importantly, fits their playing style.
Smith was keen to ensure he had midfielders running from deep last term and judging by Wesley’s ten assists, he could play a crucial role in supplying the end product to encourage those types of runs.
Villa’s approach so far has been measured and Purslow’s promise, coupled with Smith’s philosophy and ambition, is proving fruitful.
It’ll now be down to the players to live up to the billing of being an exciting young team.