Last season, the Kerala Blasters snuck up on the more high-profile teams – the Blasters are still better known for being co-owned by Sachin Tendulkar than their star-studded players – locking their place in the knockout rounds, before snuffing out the league leaders Chennaiyin FC to make it to the maiden final of the Indian Super League.
Despite a dominant(ish) performance in the final, though, the Kerala Blasters suffered heartbreak when Atletico de Kolkata, much more assured and a lot less nervy, scored a late winner to etch their names in the history books by becoming the first ever ISL champions.
So, you would think that the Kerala Blasters, after making it to the final of the ISL last year, would be a bit more high-profile, glamorous this season. Nope, not quite. They chose not to buy any of the big-name Indian players in the ISL auctions, and again, they have gone about making the signings for the new season quietly and quite effectively.
David James has been replaced as the coach/marquee player, with the experienced Peter Taylor taking the helm as the manager of the Kerala Blasters. The Englishman will be ably supported again by the Indian-football-experienced Trevor Morgan, who was crucial to the Blasters' fortunes last season.
The marquee player for this season is former Spain international Carlos Marchena – famous for his time with Valencia under Rafa Benitez -- who should provide defensive solidity to the Blasters again, much like last season, when their success was built on not leaking too many goals at the back.
Last season's failings – if you can call it that – was primarily a lack of teeth up front, with only Iain Hume really providing any kind of consistent cutting edge. While Kerala Blasters have seen Hume sign for Atletico de Kolkata this season, they have made some astute forward signings, chief of them being the former Arsenal youth player Sanchez Watt and another Englishman Chris Dagnall.
Watt was highly thought of at Arsenal in his younger days, and while his career has not quite gone the way he would have liked, what is undoubted is his talent. The forward has the pace to scare any defence in the ISL, and it is that pace and power that could be key in scoring those breakaway goals.
"I didn't come here just to play football, to have a good time and meet people," Watt told ISL's official website. "I want to go back to England saying, 'I've won it'.
"Hopefully, I can even come back one day. The only objective is to win it and obviously I want to win the Hero of the League award. I want to help my team win and score some goals."
Dagnall is another player expected to shine in ISL 2015, with the Blasters, this time, bringing in players who are not well off their peak. Both Watt and Dagnall are still in their 20s – ok Dagnall is 29, but it still counts -- and that, considering the non-stop nature of the ISL, could prove to be vital to the team's fortunes this season.
However, the Blasters will miss the energy, running power and drive of Stephen Pearson, who was one of the outstanding players for them last season.
Key players: Foreigners: Most of the overseas player signings looks astute, with Peter Ramage also set to play a big part, apart from the obvious Marchena, Dagnall and Watt. Also watch out for Antonio German, a youngster, who has the potential to set the ISL alight, while Josue, the former Barcelona youth product could also make an impact.
Indian: Cannot look beyond Sandesh Jhingan, who was the standout player for the Kerala Blasters last season.
Kerala Blasters: Full squad: Goalkeepers: Sandip Nandy, Shilton Paul, Stephen Bywater.
Defenders: Carlos Marchena, Gurwinder Singh, Marcus Williams, Nirmal Chettri, Perone, Peter Ramage, Ramandeep Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Saumik Dey.
Midfielders: CK Vineeth, Cavin Lobo, Ishfaq Ahmed, Joao Coimbra, Josue, Mehtab Hossain, Peter Carvalho, Shankar Sampingiraj, Victor Herrero Forcada.
Forwards: Antonio German, Chris Dagnall, Manandeep Singh, Mohammed Rafi, Sanchez Watt.