In addition to making history, Swansea City will make a statement on behalf of Welsh football just by turning up at Manchester City on Monday evening, but the first non-English side to compete in the Premier League have resisted the temptation to bring along a statement signing.
Brendan Rodgers had one lined up – the Swansea manager talked terms with Villarreal veteran and former Spain captain Marcos Senna, no less – only to decide at the last minute that a marquee name was not what the situation required. "I can't speak highly enough of Marcos's professionalism, he was first class to deal with and I'm sure he would have brought a lot to the club," Rodgers says. "But when I thought about the money we'd have to give him, the package we were proposing, I just felt it wouldn't be right. The other players would have been blown away by what he would have been earning, and those players are the ones who got us this promotion, the ones I have to believe in. The fit wasn't right. To give a new player such a lot more than everyone else didn't seem fair, no matter what his experience and ability. So I called it off and immediately felt much more comfortable. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling."
Swansea will be doing that quite a lot this season, sticking to their core beliefs and hoping Rodgers' inspirational knack will stand them in good stead again, though that is not to suggest the 38-year-old Irishman will be flying by the seat of his pants. While Rodgers may be in charge of a team of top-level ingénues he has plenty of experience and first-hand knowledge of how the big clubs work.
The Swans manager was at Chelsea as a coaching assistant during José Mourinho's successful years and came close to joining Manchester City in a similar capacity before an offer to manage a club in his own right came along at the same time. Incredibly, that was only a year ago and, after brief cameos at Reading and Watford, he can now boast to have taken a club into the promised land in his first full season in management.
That is some achievement, though, as Rodgers will tell you, his is no overnight success. "I started coaching at age 20, so I've already done 18 years and that's more than some established Premier League managers," he explains. "I didn't come in at the top, with a great playing career behind me, I had to start at the bottom and take the long road, though it did mean I started early. It already feels like I have been in the game ages, but I plan to stick around. I want to be in the game for as long as possible, especially now I have been to my first Premier League Managers' meeting. Up till that point, I had spent the summer not really feeling like a Premier League manager, but now I have sat around a table with Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger I have started to hope a bit of their genius might rub off on me."
Rodgers is putting together the sort of CV that suggests it might, though the immediate question is how long his Swansea side will stick around in the top flight. Perceptions about promoted sides, especially romantic risers such as Swansea, have subtly shifted in the past few seasons. Where once we heard a lot about the unbridgeable gulf between the top two divisions, and the feeling existed that only the most well-equipped or dourly tenacious scrappers could hope to come up and cling on to the Premier League's lower slopes, the experiences of Blackpool, Burnley and Hull in recent seasons, and Reading and Wigan before that, have suggested confident Championship teams with a spirit of adventure need fear little from the broad band of generally timid top-flight clubs below the European positions. That said, Blackpool and Burnley were both relegated after one season and Hull only lasted two.
"Our shirts were still wet from sweating at Wembley when the bookmakers installed us as favourites to go down," Rodgers says. "We are under no illusions, life is going to be hard and we are bound to lose a few games. We will probably be unsure of ourselves until we win our first match. There are three distinct levels within the Premier League and, in terms of money, we constitute a fourth, a bit like Blackpool last season. We've come a long way in a short time. It is only a few years since we couldn't afford to pay the electricity bill here.
"I had to laugh when I discovered our first opponents would be Manchester City. I had just come down Kilimanjaro on a charity walk and I felt like going back up again. City are looking to be one of the superpowers of European football and, knowing a little about the people they have behind the scenes, I think they will probably make it, but it is important to remember they are not representative of the entire Premier League. If you thought too much about how much money some clubs have, you would never get out of bed in the morning.
"Financially we are a million miles behind some of the clubs in this league, but that won't stop us fighting. We know where we are at and we are comfortable with it. We will have a passionate crowd rooting for us at home and, if we produce our A game, we have a chance against any opponents. Of course, if all of our opponents bring along their A game too we might struggle, but we can cope with being underdogs. People seem to forget that we were underdogs in a lot of the games we played last season. When I came here, we were among the clubs being tipped to be relegated. We ended up keeping more than 20 clean sheets and you don't do that without strength of character."
Rodgers is bound to talk up his own team, but Roberto Martínez, last Swansea manager but two and whose Wigan side provide the opposition for the first Premier League game to be played in Wales next week, believes the Swans have a chance. "Even when I was there Swansea always did their work with the Premier League in mind," Martínez says. "The club is about going forward and looking upwards, and although I will be happy to see the Liberty Stadium when it welcomes the Premier League for the first time, I must admit I could think of better times to be playing Swansea. I think the fans will be up for it in the same way Burnley supporters were when they played Manchester United a couple of years ago. It will be a very tough game for us, it would be for anybody."
Danny Graham, a £3.5m goalscorer from Watford, the already well-travelled Wayne Routledge for £1.8m from Newcastle and £1.75m back-up striker Leroy Lita from Reading are the most prominent of Swansea's somewhat cautious summer signings, though, as with the Senna business, money alone is not always a reliable indicator of what a club is about. Rodgers also picked up Michel Vorm, Holland's No2 goalkeeper, for £1.5m, though the price had little to do with why he signed him.
"I knew I had to get a goalkeeper with good feet," he explains. "The way we play, it is vital that the goalkeeper is comfortable on the ball and most Dutch keepers are. Of course you want him to stop shots as well, that's a given, but we feel distribution from the back is also important, and Michel should be perfect for our style of football."
It's not every day you hear that from the manager of a promoted club, is it? And Rodgers has an equally refreshing answer to the question of whether Swansea have signed enough players with Premier League experience. "No, I don't think we have," he admits. "We could have gone down that route, but that's how you end up chasing the dream and turning your Premier League heaven into the hell of insolvency a few seasons down the line. We are happy to be sticking a toe into the Premier League, but we can't afford to jump in with both feet.
"I have already talked to a couple of players who were concerned that we weren't near enough to an airport. I don't want players worrying about airports, I want players who are keen to make a name for themselves in this city. This is a great time to be in Swansea. We are about to step into the unknown. Nobody knows what will happen, but, now the new season is here, we are all going to find out."