Nice will welcome Strasbourg to the Allianz Riviera for their Ligue 1 encounter on Sunday afternoon.
These sides finished fifth and sixth respectively last season, so it should be a high-quality affair on the Southeastern coast of France.
After missing out on a Europa League qualification spot by goal difference last season, Nice will instead compete in the Europa Conference League under Lucien Favre.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss, who is beginning his second spell at the club after a successful two-year stint between 2016 and 2018, replaced Christophe Galtier earlier this summer after the 55-year-old understandably opted to join reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Favre, of course, helped Nice qualify for the Champions League by guiding them to third – their highest league finish in decades – in his first season in charge in 2016-17.
Whether the former Switzerland international can take Les Aiglons to those heady heights again remains to be seen, with last weekend’s 1-1 draw away to newly-promoted Toulouse not exactly representing the perfect start to a new campaign.
Defeat looked likely after Thijs Dallinga‘s early strike for the hosts, but debutant Aaron Ramsey equalised in trademark fashion with only 12 minutes remaining, with the Wales midfielder arriving late onto a cutback to smash the ball into the top corner.
Favre will be demanding a stronger collective performance from his players, with Strasbourg likely to represent a step-up in class.
Indeed, Strasbourg’s sixth-placed finish last time out was their highest placing in Ligue 1 for 32 years.
Former Rennes boss Julien Stephan continued Le Racing’s forward momentum in recent years, taking them to the cusp of a European qualification spot, before agonisingly falling short in the end.
Bettering, or even matching, last season’s remarkable achievements may prove difficult for Stephan and his players this season, with last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at home to Monaco unlikely to inspire belief that they can compete with Ligue 1’s big boys for a second successive season.
In fairness, there was absolutely nothing Strasbourg could do about Krepin Diatta‘s tremendous opener, with the winger rifling on the volley from outside of the area, but goalkeeper Matz Sels may feel he should have palmed a tame effort away from danger rather than into the path of Sofiane Diop, who doubled the visitors’ lead.
Habib Diallo‘s header provided hope a comeback, but Monaco ultimately held on, with Stephan hoping for more from his players against a different side based in the Riviera on Sunday.
Nice are in an enviable position of having no injury concerns restricting Favre’s options at present.
Despite lacking match fitness, Ramsey could receive a start having made a decisive impact from the bench away to Toulouse, with Alexis Beka Beka potentially making way for the former Arsenal and Juventus man.
Kasper Schmeichel could be handed his debut in goal, too, with his signing from Leicester City going through a little too late to be thrown straight in last weekend.
Strasbourg, meanwhile, will likely travel without Nordine Kandil (muscle), Eiji Kawashima (shoulder) and Lebo Mothiba (illness).
Despite defeat, Stephan may trust the same starting XI to go again, with Diallo and Ludovic Ajorque one of the stronger strike-pairings in the division.
Nice possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Lotomba, Todibo, Dante, Bard; Rosario, Thuram; Stengs, Ramsey, Gouiri; Delort
Strasbourg possible starting lineup:
Sels; Perrin, Nyamsi, Djiku; Pierre-Gabriel, Prcic, Bellegarde, Lienard; Thomasson; Diallo, Ajorque