Based on the climactic end to last season, many might expect Manchester City and Manchester United to be vying for top grading at this stage of the Premier League season.
But that would be too lazy and predictable. So as it is Christmas, we have decided to take a brief and objective review of each club in relation to our preseason expectations. In addition, there are a number of wild cards that should always be taken into account.
For example, Dave Whelan deserves a knighthood for his services to football with all the love, cash and simple goodwill he has invested in tiny Wigan and football in general. For them to still be in the Premier League is a minor miracle. For Whelan to have kept the talented Roberto Martinez is simply astonishing.
So Wigan deserve lavish praise for the Great Escape last season yet again. That was then; this is now.
So after comparing current league positions and likely prospects with the start of the year projections, here is our relative appraisal for the season so far, club by club, from worst to best.