Steve Bruce's Sunderland face an early test of their progress when Premier League title contenders Chelsea arrive at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday.
The Northumberland-born former Wigan boss took over the Black Cats this summer and has spent heavily in transforming a squad which narrowly fought off relegation last season.
Fraizer Campbell, Lorik Cana, Darren Bent and Lee Cattermole have all arrived in what Bruce calls 'nose bleed stuff' in the transfer market as plans turn to providing Sunderland with a different dimension.
Bent made an immediate impact when scoring on his debut at Bolton at the weekend, but all those attached to the Black Cats will know that Chelsea will provide a totally different form of opposition.
Ahead of making his competitive home bow, Bruce has joined those pointing to the Blues' title credentials following the arrival of ex-AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Chelsea finished a disappointing third last season, but Ancelotti has already steered the club to a Community Shield victory over Manchester United to give an indication of potential.
The Stamford Bridge outfit were made to work for a late win over Hull City in West London on Saturday and they will hope for another three-point haul, but a slightly less strenuous 90 minutes.
Sunderland are likely to include Andy Reid in their squad following the winger's recovery from a thigh injury, while goalkeeper Craig Gordon is fit again and competing with Marton Fulop for a first-team place.
Paulo Da Silva is not expected to feature as he continues to build match fitness, and Bruce is to make late assessments on Kieran Richardson and Steed Malbranque, who have thigh and ankle problems, respectively.
Paul McShane (knee) and David Meyler (ankle) are definitely not going to be involved.
Chelsea, who are close to a deal for MFK Kosice midfielder Nemanja Matic, will be without Juliano Belletti due to an Achilles injury, as new signing Yuri Zhirkov continues to struggle with a knee complaint.
Centre-back Alex, midfielder Joe Cole and full-back Paulo Ferreira have all resumed training following injury but are not ready for first-team football.
Possible starting XIs:Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, McCartney, Ferdinand, Collins, Cattermole, Cana, Richardson, Reid, Bent, Jones.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, A. Cole, Essien, Mikel, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, Drogba.