Manager: Craig Brown
10/11 season: Ninth place in the table, but also managed to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup and Scottish Cup, twice losing to Celtic at Hampden Park.
Strengths: Management duo. Craig Brown and Archie Knox are veterans of the Scottish scene. Should be deemed a safe pair of hands to guide Aberdeen through the seasonal grind. Brown managed to steady the ship somewhat in hoisting Aberdeen out of the relegation places, but will know that there is room for improvement. Aberdeen have the distinction of being the last club from outwith Celtic or Rangers to win the Scottish Premier League in 1985. Those days are long gone, but a club of Aberdeen's size, within Scotland at least, should try to mount a challenge for third place in an often haggard table.
Weaknesses: The obvious shortcoming when analysing Aberdeen is their propensity to ship goals at an alarming rate. Brown tightened matters up having replaced Mark McGhee in December with the club bottom of the table on goal difference. This came after Celtic subjected them to a gruesome, club record 9-0 defeat at Celtic Park last November. It surely must get better this season under Brown, a coach who has built a stout reputation on being mean.
In: Youl Mawene (Panserraikos), Isaac Osbourne (Coventry City), David Gonzalez (Manchester City, loan), Chris Clark, Kari Arnason (both Plymouth Argyle)
Out: Chris Maguire (Derby), Mark Howard, Derek Young, David McNamee, Zander Diamond (Released)
Key man: Scott Vernon
Manager: Neil Lennon
10/11 season: Second. Lost 2-1 to Rangers in the League Cup final, but lifted the Scottish Cup with a 3-0 win over Motherwell.
Strengths: Attack. Lennon has put together a side on a budget that likes to fraternise with the best traditions of Celtic teams from yesteryear in throwing bodies forward at every opportunity. Lennon has impressed his demands upon a youngish squad, and was rewarded with a level of consistency last season that almost brought the club their first SPL title since 2008. A point was all that separated Celtic from champions Rangers over 38 games. Start off as favourites to regain the championship.
Weaknesses: Defence. Celtic boasted the best defensive record in the league last season in conceding only 22 goals, but there remains question marks over the defence's ability to succeed under pressure. Lost three goals in Europe at Sporting Braga at the outset of last season. A 3-2 loss at Inverness in the death throes of the campaign that ultimately cost Celtic the league suggests old habits die hard. Should be strong enough to win the league, but only if their defence revels in consistency. With another five weeks to sign new faces, it would be foolish to predict with any certainty that Celtic are much better equipped to deal with the demands of the SPL than Rangers. For Lennon, it simply must happen this season. Second place remains nowhere in Scotland.
In: Adam Matthews (Cardiff), Kelvin Wilson (Nottingham Forest), Victor Wanyama (Germinal Beerschot)
Out: Paul McGowan (St Mirren, undisclosed), Freddie Ljungberg, Ryan Conroy (Dundee), Ben Hutchison (released), Graham Carey (St Mirren)
Key man: Beram Kayal
Manager: Peter Houston
10/11 season: Fourth
Strengths: Stable management. Dundee United have improved yearly since the late Eddie Thompson appointed Craig Levein as his manager in 2006 before Levein departed for the Scotland manager's post in 2009. That success culminated in the club's success in lifting the Scottish Cup in 2010. Last season, they finished fourth under Peter Houston, which was a praiseworthy performance. Picked up points at Celtic and Rangers, and there seems to be an awareness of what is needed between manager Houston and chairman Stephen Thompson.
Weaknesses: Lighter squad. Having lost three players to aspiring Championship clubs with Craig Conway (Cardiff City), Prince Buaben (Waford) and Morgaro Gomis (Birmingham City) departing for a juicier wage packet elsewhere, there is little doubt that the quality of Dundee United is not what it was a year ago. There have been imaginative signings in the form of seasoned midfielders Willo Flood and John Rankin. Like most SPL sides, will need some good fortune to avoid injuries and suspensions if they are to reach the levels they are aspiring to. Appear strong enough to finish fourth in the standings.
In: Gary Mackay-Stevens (Airdrie), Willo Flood (Middlesbrough), John Rankin (Hibernian)
Out: David Robertson (St Johnstone), Darren Dods (Falkirk), Morgaro Gomis (Birmingham), Craig Conway (Cardiff), Prince Buaben (watford)
Key man: David Goodwillie
Manager: Jim McIntyre
10/11 season: 1st in First Division
Strengths: Freshness. As opposed to some of their direct opponents, which tends to contain around half of the SPL's willing competitors, who constantly have to worry about fighting to avoid relegation from Scotland's elite league, Dunfermline bring a freshness to the party aided by their success in snaring the Scottish First Division title last year. They validated their mandate to join the SPL by winning the secondary league by 10 points from local neighbours Raith Rovers. Dunfermline have been away from the SPL for four years, but return with a smattering of new faces as they bid to retain their place at the top table.
Weaknesses: Unlike the Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson at the Open Championship last week, Dunfermline would happily take an 11 and walk off the course now. Dunfermline's sole priority is to avoid relegation. History is on their side as only Gretna have come up and gone straight back down again in the past decade, but it could all depend on their powers of recovery from the defeats that will inevitably come their way, especially those random floggings that become commonplace at Celtic Park, Ibrox and, probably, East End Park.
In: Paul Burns (Queen of the South), Kevin Rutkiewicz (St Johnstone), Paddy Boyle (Partick Thistle), Andy Barrowman (Ross County), Paul Gallacher (St Mirren), John Potter (Dunfermline), Jason Thomson (Hearts, loan)
Out: Calum Woods (Huddersfield)
Key man: Paul Gallacher
Heart of Midlothian
Manager: Jim Jefferies
10/11 season: Third
Strengths: Tynecastle. Outside of Celtic Park and Ibrox, Tynecastle remains the most intimidating arena in Scotland. Can be a thankless venue to visit when Hearts are beating strongly. Hearts were the best of the rest last season, but finished 29 points behind second-placed Celtic to illustrate the gap between the also-ran and the leading two teams in Scotland.
Weaknesses: Injuries. Hearts were going well around Christmas last season, but injuries to key figures impacted upon their ability to sustain any meaningful winning sequence. Wound up third, but tended to limp home in the second half of the season in finishing only two points ahead of fourth-placed Dundee United. Manager Jim Jefferies must hope eccentric club owner Vladimir Romanov keeps his nose out of team selection in the months ahead otherwise he may decide to opt out. Important to shake off the inevitable stench left by the Craig Thomson episode.
In: Jamie Hamill (Kilmarnock), John Sutton (Motherwell), Danny Grainger (St Johnstone), Mehdi Taouil (Kilmarnock)
Out: Ruben Palazuelos, Jamie Mole, David Kucharski, Ismail Bouzid, Jonathan Brown, Craig Thomson (Released)
Key man: Kevin Kyle
Manager: Colin Calderwood
10/11 season: 10th
Strengths: Apart from a rare 3-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox, there has not been much to get overly excited about at Easter Road in recent times. A passionate support has been muted by the lack of energy from the club's rulers, but hope springs eternal that Hibs can start the season positively and avoid being sucked into another season of depression attempting to avoid the great drop.
Weaknesses: Uncertainty over the manager's future is never an inspired way to ready a team for a new season. Calderwood has been busy fielding questions about his commitment to the club after being linked with Nottingham Forest and Birmingham. Hibs have gone through five managers in five seasons which does not lend itself to an air of stability. If Calderwood sticks with Hibs, he must do better than last season. Important for the returning Garry O'Connor to prove he is not a waste of space.
In: Ivan Sproule (Bristol City), Garry O'Connor (Free Agent), Sean O'Hanlon (MK Dons)
Out: John Rankin (Dundee United), Derek Riordan, Ricardo Vaz Te, Kurtis Byrne, Colin Nish, Valdas Trakys, Kevin McCann, Steven Thicot, Thomas Flynn (Released), Kurtis Byrne (Ross County)
Key man: Garry O'Connor
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Manager: Terry Butcher
10/11 season: Seventh
Strengths: Away form. Inverness tend to perform as impressively away from home as they do in the capital of the Highlands. They picked up more points on the road than at home in validating their position in the SPL a season after winning promotion without too many problems. A draw at Celtic Park in November ensured they had gone a calender year without a loss in Scotland, which remains a remarkable achievement. Manager Terry Butcher is more of an alchemist at this level than a football coach. He seems to have found a natural spot for his talents as a manager to flourish in a scenic spot in the world. Expect Inverness to provide problems for every team in the SPL this season.
Weaknesses: Lack of experience. In this age of austerity, Inverness have lost a few experienced faces as they bid to juggle the demands of full-time football, but captain Richie Foran is optimistic his side will be able to cope with the shortfall. They retain gnarled figures such as Ross Tokely and goalkeeper Ryan Esson. Should retain their place in the SPL, but will perhaps be a rockier road than last year.
In: Greg Tansey (Stockport County), Gregory Tade (Raith Rovers), Tom Aldred (Watford, loan), Andrew Shinnie (Rangers), Josh Meekings (Ipswich), Billy McKay (Northampton Town, Aaron Doran (Blackburn Rovers)
Out: Adam Rooney (Birmingham City), Grant Munro (Ross County), Stuart Golabek (Brora Rangers), Roy McBain (Peterhead), Russell Duncan, Dani Sanchez, Chris Innes, Chris Hogg, Max Johnson, Gil Blumenshtein (Released)
Key man: Richie Foran
Manager: Kenny Shiels
10/11 season: Fifth
Strengths: Top-six success. Kilmarnock go into the new season having enjoyed a successful campaign in finishing fifth in the table. Such a finale was astonishing after they had narrowly avoided relegation 12 months earlier. That should provide the club with optimism for the new campaign, but they will have to achieve their aims with a fresh cast of faces.
Weaknesses: A trio of departures: so much of what Kilmarnock achieved in the first half of last season was down to manager Mixu Paatelainen, midfielder Alexei Eremenko and forward Conor Sammon. Paatelainen went home to manage Finland, while Wigan unloaded close to £1 million to sign Sammon and Eremenko ended his loan agreement. It is no coincidence that Kilmarnock lost all eight games after Paatelainen departed, but Shiels has the chance to prove his value in his first full season as manager. Avoiding relegation is the least that will be demanded of him.
In: Ben Hutchinson (Free) Danny Racchi (York), Paul Heffernan (Sheffield Wednesday), Gary Harkins (Dundee), Patrick Ada (Crewe), Zdenek Kroca (Luton Town), Danny Buijs (ADO Den Haag), Rory McKeown (Ipswich Town)
Out: Alexei Eremenko (Metalist Kharkiv - end of loan), Jamie Hamill (Hearts), Craig Bryson (Derby, undisclosed), Frazer Wright (St Johnstone), Mehdi Taouil (Hearts), Steven Old, Mohamadou Sissoko (Udinese - end of loan), Willy Aubameyang, Rui Miguel
Key man: Cammy Bell
Manager: Stuart McCall
10/11 season: Sixth, but managed to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup and final of the Scottish Cup.
Strengths: Despite the departure of several familiar faces, Motherwell remain a side of some potency, at least in Scottish terms. Fir Park can be a hazardous place to visit, especially when the harsh Scottish winter ravages the club's playing surface. Motherwell enjoyed a successful season in docking in the top six. Look well placed for a repeat performance.
Weaknesses: Could toil if injuries bite into their squad, but have a young manager in Stuart McCall and a young squad that looks poised to enjoy another decent campaign. The form of Chris Humphrey and Jamie Murphy will be invaluable in helping to hoist Motherwell up the table.
In: Nicky Devlin (Dumbarton), Michael Higdon (St Mirren), Nicky Law (Rotherham United)
Out: John Sutton (Hearts), Francis Jeffers, Maurice Ross, Steven Meechan, Angelis Charalambous, Esteban Cassagolda (Released), Gavin Gunning (Blackburn - end of loan), Steve Jones
Key man: Jamie Murphy
Manager: Ally McCoist
10/11 season: Champions
Strengths: Success. The key members of the Rangers squad know each other well, and have become accustomed to success over the past few seasons. Steven Whittaker, Steven Davis, David Weir and goalkeeper Allan McGregor have penned new contracts which should give Rangers a familiar look as they embark on their bid for a fourth straight SPL gong. The ongoing and outstanding captain Weir continues to impress in defence at the age of 41.
Weaknesses: New owner Craig Whyte has helped to bring in Juan Manuel Ortiz, but Rangers do not appear to be stronger than last season. Rangers' hopes of preventing Celtic from claiming the title could depend upon who they sign before the end of August. New faces and an improved quality will be vital to Rangers with a Champions League campaign also looming large on the horizon. It remains to be seen whether or not Ally McCoist will be up to the task of replacing Walter Smith as Rangers' leading man. McCoist will not come up short due to lack of effort, but he needs reserves of money badly to freshen up his squad, especially to assist Weir in central defence. Keeping Nikica Jelavic fit remains a key strand of the Glasgow side's agenda.
In: Juan Manuel Ortiz (Almeria)
Out: El-Hadji Diouf (Blackburn - end of loan), Richard Foster (Aberdeen - end of loan) Vladimir Weiss (Manchester City - end of loan), Kyle Bartley (Arsenal - end of loan), Andrew Shinnie (Inverness)
Key man: Nikica Jelavic
Manager: Derek McInnes
10/11 season: Eighth
Strengths: Have sprinkled their squad with some versatile faces as manager Derek McInnes attempts to get more potency from his squad. Captain Jody Morris brings considerable bite and leadership to the club at SPL level.
Weaknesses: Lack of goals. St Johnstone scored only 23 goals in the Scottish Premier League, consigning them to the role of the league's lowest scorers. Looks like being a long season unless they begin to wallow in goals against lesser lights in the league. Could be sucked into the relegation issues affecting the league.
In: Callum Davidson (Preston), David Robertson (Dundee United), Sean Higgins (Dundee), Frazer Wright (Kilmarnock), David McCracken (Brentford), Carl Finnigan (Falkirk)
Out: Michael Duberry (Oxford), Kevin Rutkiewicz (Dunfermline), Danny Grainger (Hearts), Cleveland Taylor (Burton Albion), Scott Dobie, Danny Invincibile, Peter Macdonald (Morton), Andy Jackson (Morton), Graeme Smith (St Mirren), Collin Samuel, Jordan Robertson
Key man: Jody Morris
Manager: Danny Lennon
10/11 season: 11th
Strengths: The recruitment of the former Scotland players Steven Thompson and Gary Teale should be of some benefit to Danny Lennon's side as they attempt to get the better of the Dunfermlines and St Johnstones of this world, while Paul McGowan can be an eye-catching forward.
Weaknesses: Injuries are likely to hamper their ambitions, but they start the season with a squad that should certainly be good enough to stay in the SPL and one that may even improve upon last season when they finished second from bottom. Such an outcome should be deemed acceptable in and around Paisley.
In: Steven Thompson (Burnley), Nigel Hasselbaink (Hamilton), Graeme Smith (St Johnstone), Paul McGowan (Celtic), Graham Carey (Celtic), Gary Teale (Sheffield Wednesday)
Out: Paul Gallacher (Dunfermline), Craig Dargo, John Potter (Dunfermline), Gareth Wardlaw (Ayr), Garry Brady (Brechin), Michael Higdon (Motherwell), Sean Lynch, Patrick Cregg, Nick Hegarty, Jamie McCluskey, Jure Travner
Key man: Steven Thompson