Italian football writer for more than 20 years, and Viola follower for a lifetime, Giancarlo Rinaldi previews Fiorentina's season for SB Nation. You can find more of his thoughts on Twitter (@ginkers) or at Rinaldi's blog (giancarlorinaldi.tumblr.com).
It is the year of truth for Sinisa Mihajlovic. Last season he could blame injury and transition for a disappointing campaign. This time around the Serbian boss will have to deliver in Florence or he will surely be shown the door. The fans have been in turmoil for some time.
Viola supporters believe their side has a duty to fight for at least a place in Europe which, this year, means a top six slot. The club's owners have said that is their target too. They have been criticised for cutting back the wage bill this summer but they still believe they have a competitive squad. Only time will tell whether more heartache awaits or a revival could be seen on the banks of the River Arno.
Fiorentina in 2010-2011
A drab campaign ended in midtable but only thanks to a decent second half of the season. In early weeks, the Viola found themselves hovering above the relegation zone. They recovered but their football, overall, was a shadow of the play they produced in the Champions League the previous year.
There has been a major clearout with many big names shown the door to cut the salary spending. Adrian Mutu takes his troubled soul to Cesena, Mario Santana and Marco Donadel found a new home in Naples, while club legend Sebastien Frey was moved to Genoa. And Riccardo Montolivo has been looking for a new home.
Signings have been slow to come but new Brazilian right-back cum midfielder Romulo has looked promising pre-season. Also on the arrivals list have been Andrea Lazzari from Cagliari and Gianni Munari to help boost the midfield with their creativity and work ethic respectively.
What to Expect from 2011-2012
An apparently soft start away to Siena could set the tone for the Viola's season. If they can come away with a victory from their Tuscan rivals it would start the confidence flowing and silence their most vociferous fans. If they flop, however, the knives will be out for the club's coach and owners.
The club needs to find a new tactical identity after going through countless changes last year. If Mihajlovic can get his ideas clear and transmit them to his players, he still has a squad that is capable of fighting at the upper end of the table. However, if the confusion persists, they might struggle to do much better than last year.
The Viola desperately need the boost of a few good results and performances early in the season to buy themselves some time. A bad start could be fatal for their prospects of European football which they hope to get back to sooner rather than later. If they don't make a serious challenge for the top six then expect a change in manager and crowds to dwindle at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Ruled out last season with injury, everything revolves around Stevan Jovetic this year. If Jojo comes back to form, the Florentines can be a significant force. Otherwise, they are midtable at best.
At the back, new captain Alessandro Gamberini will have to try to tighten up a defence which threw away too many goals last year. While up front the biggest contribution will be expected, as always, from Alberto Gilardino.
Potential Breakout Star
New Brazilian boy Romulo was signed as a right-back but has been used in right-midfielder in pre-season with impressive results. If he can settle into that position and not suffer too much for the tactical change to Serie A, he could surprise a few defences.
The Viola could finish anywhere from fourth to 14th but it is probably best to split the difference with a realistic target being sixth or seventh.