Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Massimiliano Allegri is an devout advocate of the 4-3-1-2 formation and has utilized this system throughout his tenure with AC Milan.
The pivotal figure in this formation is the "one," who would be referred to in Italy as the trequartista, the player most responsible for providing the creativity to the side's attacks.
Last season this role was interpreted differently with Zlatan Ibrahimovic operating in a much deeper role than many expected. The Swedish international tended to flourish in the area that the "one" would normally position himself, which allowed Kevin-Prince Boateng to burst beyond Ibrahimovic when the Rossoneri were in possession.
This worked really well due to Ibrahimovic's wonderful vision and range of passing, superior to that of anybody else in the squad. It appeared to be the perfect solution after the majestic Andrea Pirlo departed to Juventus.
Allegri must now conjure up an alternative plan after the enigmatic Swede left for Ligue 1, but the signings made this summer do not offer anything appealing in this regard.
Giampaolo Pazzini can replace, to an extent, Ibrahimovic's physical presence, but clearly lacks the vision and genius of his predecessor. With Robinho's erratic form, Boateng will continue to be deployed as the "one," which begs the question of who will be able to unlock the tougher defences.
It feels like Milan can sweep aside inferior opposition with force and superior matchups across the pitch. Against the stronger, tactically disciplined opponents, who tend to position the majority of the side behind the ball, Milan will come unstuck.
Boateng will receive plenty of the ball, but unless he is being released by a more creative player, he will struggle to break down the opposition and will normally resort to long-range shooting.
It is Allegri's toughest test yet and something he will have been anticipating for some time. If he can produce a title challenge with this large but limited group of players, Milan will owe a great deal to the Mister.
Jack Alexandros Rathborn is a football analyst for Football Radar, covering Italy's Serie A. You can follow him on Twitter; @jackrathborn and @FRcalcioJack.