Derby County travel to Sunderland on Friday evening as the Championship season kicks off at the Stadium of Light.
Having been relegated from the Premier League in 2016-17, finishing bottom of the pile under David Moyes, the Black Cats are planning for an immediate return to the Premier League under new boss Simon Grayson, albeit under extremely difficult circumstances.
Gary Rowett's Derby are expected to be among the clubs chasing promotion to the English top flight, with the former Birmingham City manager taking over at Pride Park at the back end of last season.
Both coaches are kicking off their first full season with their respective clubs and will be looking to open the new campaign with a victory.
|Game||Sunderland vs Derby County|
|Date||Friday, August 4|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the UK, the match will be available to watch live on television on Sky Sports Football and by stream via Sky Go and NOW TV.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Main Event||Sky Go, NOW TV|
If you live outside of the UK, you will be able to stream all of your club's non-televised matches live through the Football League's new iFollow service this season.
A subscription to the platform costs £110 for the 2017-18 campaign and will grant you full access to up to 46 games. For more details, see the EFL's website.
SQUAD & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||Jason Steele, Max Stryjek, Mika Domingues|
|Defenders||Billy Jones, Bryan Oviedo, Papy Djilobodji, Brendan Galloway, John O'Shea, Tyias Browning, Adam Matthews, Donald Love, Lamine Koné|
|Midfielders||Paddy McNair, Lee Cattermole, Jeremain Lens, Jack Rodwell, Wahbi Khazri, Didier N'Dong, Aiden McGeady, Darron Gibson, George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch, Ethan Robson, Elliot Embleton|
|Forwards||James Vaughan, Lewis Grabban, Duncan Watmore, Josh Maja, Joel Asoro|
Sunderland have little to choose from at the back, but Grayson has a choice to make in goal following Jason Steele's miserable display against Celtic.
Lewis Grabban, Josh Maja and James Vaughan will compete for the forward roles, should Grayson stick to the 4-4-2 formation he deployed at Preston last season.
Possible line-up: Steele; Jones, Browning, Kone, Galloway; McGeady, N'Dong, Cattermole, Honeyman; Vaughan, Grabban
|Position||Derby County players|
|Goalkeepers||Scott Carson, Kelle Roos, Jonathan Mitchell|
|Defenders||Craig Forsyth, Jason Shackell, Richard Keogh, Chris Baird, Andre Wisdom, Alex Pearce, Max Lowe, Jamie Hanson, Marcus Olsson, Curtis Davies|
|Midfielders||Craig Bryson, Ikechi Anya, Bradley Johnson, Jacob Butterfield, George Thorne, Tom Huddlestone|
|Forwards||Johnny Russell, Chris Martin, Darren Bent, Andreas Weimann, Mason Bennett, Nick Blackman, Matěj Vydra, David Nugent|
Chris Martin returns to the club following a loan spell with Fulham last season and is likely to lead the line, with Tom Huddlestone set to go straight into Rowett's starting XI in midfield.
Wisdom, too, could be handed the right-back spot in Cyrus Christie's absence, though Ikechi Anya may be preferred if the Rams set up to attack Friday's opponents.
Possible line-up: Carson; Wisdom, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Johnson, Butterfield; Russell, Weimann; Martin
BETTING & MATCH ODDS
Sunderland are 7/5 to pick up the three points with DabbleBet, with Derby placed at 21/10, and a draw 9/4.
The last league meeting between the two, at Pride Park in 2008, ended as a 0-0 draw. For the same scoreline this time round, DabbleBet are offering 13/2.
Sunderland have a long way to go to rebuild any genuine positivity around the Stadium of Light but a victory on Friday will go some way to doing just that.
Grayson's side were beaten 5-0 at home in their final pre-season fixture, against Brendan Rodgers' Celtic. On top of relegation in May, and a difficult transfer window thus far, Sunderland fans have had little to cheer about in recent months.
Following the opener on Friday August 4, Sunderland go to Bury in the EFL Cup before an away double-header against Norwich and then Sheffield Wednesday in the league. Losing to Derby, in front of their home support, could already set the tone ahead of what is to be a long campaign for the club.
Derby will be confident in getting a result in the North East, such is the impact Rowett had on the squad during his short time in charge last term.
The Rams won four of their nine league games under Rowett, drawing three, leading to a finish of ninth.
Christie, who left for Garry Monk's Middlesbrough, has been replaced by Liverpool full-back Andre Wisdom, while Huddlestone and Curtis Davies have been brought in from Hull.
Fan favourites Will Hughes and Tom Ince, meanwhile, have both joined Premier League clubs in Watford and Huddersfield.
Derby have not beaten Sunderland at the Stadium of Light since 1990, but will be confident of getting a result in Friday's curtain-raiser.