CAN anyone challenge the domination of The New Saints this season and prevent the reigning champions claiming a sixth successive title?
Although some pundits believe that last season's runners-up Bala Town and a rejuvenated Gap Connah's Quay can challenge for the crown, the bookmakers certainly don't agree, pricing TNS at 1/10 to retain the trophy, so it's almost certainly a question of who will lead the race for automatic Europa League qualification.
There has rarely been a summer which has seen more transfer activity and there have been massive upheavals at Aberystwyth, Airbus, Bangor and Rhyl amonst others.
Predictions are even more of a mug's game but, ahead of Friday night's curtain raiser between Bangor City and newly-promoted Cefn Druids, we take a look at the chances of the contenders for 2016/17.
A disappointing campaign ended with the Seasiders missing out on the play-offs and the summer has seen eight experienced players depart, most notably triple Golden Boot winner Chris Venables. With new management at the helm, a rebuilt squad that will need time to gell, and no home games until mid-October due to the installation of a new 3G pitch, it could be another difficult season at Park Avenue, but a play-off spot is a possibility.
SIGNINGS Will Bell, Luke Borrelli, Josh Bull, Joe Clarke, Lewis Coyle, Jonathan Evans, Kostya Georgievsky, Chris Jones, Kurtis March, Dominic Richards, Sam Rodon, Greg Walters, Ricky Watts, Ryan Wollacott
DEPARTURES Antonio Corbisiero, Rhys Griffiths, Sion James, Stuart Jones, Ross Stephens, Lee Surman, Chris Venables, Craig Williams
MANAGER Matthew Bishop LAST SEASON 8th PREDICTION 8th
FIRST FIXTURES: The New Saints (A), Airbus UK Broughton (A)
Huge changes at the Airfield have seen many of last season's squad depart for pastures new as Andy Preece struggles to compete with some of the league's bigger spenders. Will again rely on Tony Gray as the main source of goals, but inconsistency and defensive frailties may again be the Wingmakers' undoing and they will find the race for the top six even more competitive than it was last season.
SIGNINGS Jake Cook, Paul Connolly, Jake Hulley, Ryan Neild, Connor Roberts-Nurse
DEPARTURES Jordan Barrow, Chris Budrys, James Coates, Ryan Fraughan, Ian Kearney, Andy Jones, Jay Owen, Lee Owens, Mike Pearson, Wayne Riley, Ryan Wade
DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL Andy Preece LAST SEASON 6th PREDICTION 5th
FIRST FIXTURES: Cardiff Met (H), Aberystwyth Town (H)
Runners-up last season and have strengthened with the signing of Golden Boot Chris Venables and central defender Stuart Jones, both from Aberystwyth. Installation of a 3G surface to replace the waterlogging-prone Maes Tegid pitch will be a bonus and the Lakesiders are sure to go well again with a relatively settled squad, but may find Gap Connah's Quay deny them second spot this time around.
SIGNINGS Jamie Crowther, Stuart J Jones, Phil Marsh, Lee Owens, Chris Venables
DEPARTURES Will Bell, Kristian Platt
MANAGER Colin Caton LAST SEASON 2nd PREDICTION 3rd
FIRST FIXTURES: Newtown AFC (A), Cardiff Met (A)
A summer of upheaval at Nantporth with new owners and a new manager after Nev Powell's nine-year reign was ended. Things can only get better for the Citizens and, with Andy Legg now at the helm, the City faithful will hope for an improvement on recent times with marque signings already made It could take time before the full effects are seen but, if City can reach the top six, they could mount a strong Phase 2.
SIGNINGS Oscar Durnin, Danny Gossett, Henry Jones, Jacques Kpohomouh, Dan Nardiello, Jamie Reed, Gary Roberts, Laurence Wilson
DEPARTURES Rio Ahmadi, Adam Cummins, Ryan Edwards, Michael Elstone, Iolo Hughes, Chris Jones, Steve Lewis, Declan Walker, Matty Woodward
MANAGER Andy Legg LAST SEASON 10th PREDICTION 7th
FIRST FIXTURES: Cefn Druids (H), Gap Connah's Quay (H)
The newly-promoted students will be an unknown quantity although director of football Christian Edwards knows the league well from his time at Aberystwyth as a player and coach. The only solid clue is that they have been beaten twice at home in Welsh Cup ties against WPL opposition in the last two seasons, but they could surprise with a few results and should be good enough to survive for another season.
MANAGER Christian Edwards LAST SEASON N/A PREDICTION 10th
FIRST FIXTURES: Airbus UK Broughton (A), Bala Town (H)
Reached the play-offs last season by finishing seventh, a position which would have been considerably better if the Old Gold had performed as well at Richmond Park as they did on the road, where they won eight games, a record equalled only by TNS and Llandudno. Consistently defy our predictions by finishing in the bottom six, which is something they look equipped to achieve again.
SIGNINGS Declan Carroll, Aidan Miller, Lee Surman, Matthew Thomas
DEPARTURES Luke Prosser, Chris Thomas, Sacha Walters
MANAGER Mark Aizlewood LAST SEASON 7th PREDICTION 9th
FIRST FIXTURES: Gap Connah's Quay (H), Newtown AFC (A)
Back in the top flight again after a season's absence, the Ancients will find it tough to survive on what is one of the league's lowest budgets. Matty Cook's return will ensure good leadership and midfield drive but overall, the Ancients will have to be far better than the sum of their parts to retain their Welsh Premier status with the current squad.
SIGNINGS Naim Arsan, Aaron Bowen, Matty Cook, Stuart Cook, Adam Eden, Fisnik Hajdari, Jordan Harper, Dave McIntyre, Kyle Parle, Corey Roper
MANAGER Huw Griffiths LAST SEASON N/A PREDICTION 12th
FIRST FIXTURES: Bangor City (A), Rhyl FC (A)
The appointment of Andy Morrison sparked a huge revival for the Nomads last season, culminating in European success. Major investment has continued this summer and, after beating TNS twice last season, the Deeside outfit will fancy their chances of grabbing second spot and even running the champions close for the title.
SIGNINGS Tom Field, Kevin Holsgrove, Ian Kearney, Jay Owen, Matty Owen, Mike Pearson, Lewis Short, Michael Wilde, Matty Williams
DEPARTURES Jamie Crowther, Sean Miller, Ben Nash (loan)
MANAGER Andy Morrison LAST SEASON 7th PREDICTION 2nd
FIRST FIXTURES: Carmarthen Town (A), Bangor City (A)
Last season's surprise package reached Europe in their first-ever top flight season, some achievement after winning promotion from the Huws Gray Alliance. The Seasiders may find it slightly harder to gain automatic European qualification this season ahead of big spenders Bala and Connah's Quay, but they look guaranteed to be comfortable top six contenders.
SIGNINGS John Owen, Nathan Peate, Paddy Rutter, Tom Williams
DEPARTURES Michael Johnston, Jamie Reed
MANAGER Alan Morgan LAST SEASON 3rd PREDICTION 4th
FIRST FIXTURES: Rhyl FC (A), The New Saints (H)
The Robins have finished in the top six for the past three seasons and are sure to go close again. Ross Stephens and Craig Williams, both from Aberystwyth, are experienced signings who will add to the squad strength at Latham Park, despite the loss of Welsh Premier young player of the season contender Matty Owen to the Nomads.
SIGNINGS Ryan Edwards, Alex Fletcher, Andy Jones, Ross Stephens, Jordan Wells, Craig Williams
DEPARTURES Matty Cook, Sean Evans, Craig Harris, Matty Owen, Scott Ryan, Jamie Tolley
MANAGER Chris Hughes LAST SEASON 6th PREDICTION 6th
FIRST FIXTURES: Bala Town (H), Carmarthen Town (H)
Only avoided relegation due to Port Talbot's licence failure last season and have seen huge changes to the squad since, with some experienced players released. The league's youngest manager has recruited a large but relatively unproven squad and, on paper at least, the Lilywhites don't really look equipped to do any better this time around.
SIGNINGS Andreas Alverado, James Bell, Oliver Buckley, Rory Crowther, Zy Edwards, Stefan Halewood, Tom Hartley, Kieran Hilditch, Tony Jones, Kristian Pierce, Rakim Newton, Jack Roberts, Mike Sharples
DEPARTURES Chay Dysart, Dean Keates, Dave Mannix, Terry McCormick, John Owen, Greg Stones, Ibou Touray
MANAGER Niall McGuinness LAST SEASON 11th PREDICTION 11th
FIRST FIXTURES: Llandudno FC (H), Cefn Druids (H)
Despite winning a fifth consecutive title last season, TNS were not as convincing as they have been in the past few seasons. They have added three new players in the summer transfer window and will expect a tough fight to retain their crown, but their unique full-time status should see them home comfortably in the end with another treble a distinct possibility as well.
SIGNINGS Tom Matthews. Joe Routledge, Steven Saunders
DEPARTURES Danny Gossett, Kai Edwards, Ryan Edwards, Michael Wilde, Matty Williams
DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL Craig Harrison LAST SEASON 1st PREDICTION 1st
FIRST FIXTURES: Aberystwyth Town (H), Llandudno FC (A)
* Betting odds from Corbett Sports.