Hull City remain in a state despite improbable victory over Leicester
Hull City supporters have known some great days in the last decade. Three promotions to the Premier League have brought a handful of seasons in the top flight, not to mention runs to an FA Cup final and into the European football.
Even in this era of unprecedented success, though, there have been few days at the KCOM Stadium to rival the one that began a new season last weekend. A 2-1 victory over Leicester City was as uplifting as it was unexpected. A squad comprising of just 13 senior players mustered the discipline and desire to topple the Premier League title holders.
An afternoon of escapism will be talked about for years, with smiles spreading across faces at the very mention of Robert Snodgrass' drilled winner, yet these remain uncertain times in East Yorkshire. Three points, no matter how celebrated, cannot mask that.
The Tigers will travel to Swansea City on Saturday still without a permanent manager and still waiting for the first new arrivals to bolster a now notoriously slender squad. The current state of the club, lest we forget, is unsustainable in the extreme.
Everything hinges on the success of takeover talks that continue behind the scenes. A Chinese consortium led by Dai Yongge and Hawken Xiu Li were in attendance at the Leicester game and are said to be hopeful of concluding a deal that will see them assume control from the Allam family, City's owners since 2010.
Long-term plans have no place at the KCOM Stadium until this situation is addressed. And the sooner clarity comes, the better for all. Mike Phelan, for one, has little clue where he currently stands as caretaker manager. Phelan is extremely popular with senior players but his vast experience will tell him that new owners could spell a new manager.
And then there is recruitment. Or the lack of it. With less than a fortnight remaining in the summer transfer window, Hull City are remarkably yet to sign a single player. Phelan has suggested that at least six new players are needed but that would be a conservative estimate. Eight or nine might be needed to feel comfortable all the way through until January.
City are not in a good place for the closing fortnight of the transfer window. Targets have been drawn up by one-time manager Stan Ternent, now chief scout, but there will always be a certain desperation about a club that has not signed a senior player since January. If the ambition is to recruit at least half a dozen players before Aug. 31, the Tigers will have to take what is out there. And, at this point of the summer, that means players others do not want. Failing that, they will be forced into paying over the odds. This summer has not been a buyer's market and its closing days will only get worse. Good players come at a high, high premium.
These will be the greatest challenges facing the club during the final days of August, hopefully once clarity comes over the club's ownership, but for now all City can do is focus on the long trip to Swansea on Saturday. Phelan and his players can only follow their Leicester blueprint and hope their togetherness and unity can again apply a sticking plaster to what remains an unhealthy club.
Last weekend has bought the club time and ensures Phelan's team travel to South Wales without the scrutiny that would have come their way if beaten on the opening day. They are still very much the underdogs but this group of players is providing direction through a turbulent August.
The senior players are deserving of immense credit. Figures such as Jake Livermore, who excelled as a makeshift central defender, Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone and Snodgrass have set the tone for others to follow. Sam Clucas, making his Premier League debut last weekend, was exceptional in the circumstances, as was Adama Diomande.
The same levels will have to be hit at the Liberty Stadium if Hull City are to return home to East Yorkshire still unbeaten this season. Swansea are unlikely to be one of the Premier League's strongest opponents in 2016-17 but they showed in beating Burnley that their strengths have not been eroded by the exit of former captain Ashley Williams. City were not strong travellers when last in the top flight, either. The last 18 away games before relegation yielded just two wins.
More questions hang over Hull City than answers as they approach the second weekend of the season but at least the players have shown themselves to be up for the fight that is only just beginning. That is giving supporters something to cling to.
Philip Buckingham is ESPN FC's Hull City blogger. Follow him on Twitter: @PJBuckingham.