For those who haven't been counting, it is now fifty-seven long, thankless days since Inter last played a competitive game of football. Following the 4-3 win over Empoli on Sunday 31st May, all we've had to entertain ourselves with has been the infuriating world of the summer mercato, pre-season training camps and a few dull friendlies. It's beginning to get a bit depressing.
But if you're suffering as much as I am, fear not, because the return of the serious stuff is nearly upon us. Less than four weeks now stand between us and the start of a brand spanking new Serie A campaign, and as of this evening we know who our brave boys will be playing when. This is when things really start to get, well, real. Be excited.
Of course, you might not care in the slightest when we face who we face, because the former doesn't affect the latter. If you're one of those people who has better things to do with your time than poring over weeks and weeks of future matches, and greets the fixture release with a shrug and a 'bah, we're all playing everyone twice anyway', then feel free to read no further.
For what it's worth though, I think a fixture schedule certainly can be important. There are many factors which can turn a certain weekend into either a bad time or a good time to play a particular side - such as form, fitness, the importance of the game to both teams and participation in European competition. Of course, if you're a big team, which I believe is what we're trying to become again, these sort of things should make no difference - but it's nice to be helped out by the calendar all the same.
So, without further ado, here are the highlights of Inter's 2015-16 calendar (a full version of which can be viewed here): our first fixture of the new season will be a home game against Atalanta, on the weekend beginning 23 August 2015, which could certainly have been worse. It's been 40 years since a side won the Serie A title after losing their opening game of the season (Torino in 1975-76), and ours is certainly winnable. What I'm saying here is that we're definitely going to win the Scudetto.
After that, we will then face newly-promoted Carpi away from home, and then there is a Milan derby on the third weekend of the season (Sunday 13th September)! That is likely to be one of the most intriguing derbies of the last few years, given that neither side will really have sorted out exactly what they're doing yet after such huge squad overhauls in the summer. It also comes straight after the first international break of the season, which means we'll get two whole weeks of hyperbolic build-up for it. Super.
Following that, our fourth and fifth games will be against the two sides from Verona - Chievo away (20 September) and Verona at home (23rd September, which will be the first midweek round of the year). Whichever way you look at it, that is a nice start to the season - and we will need to take a lot of points from it, otherwise there could be trouble (like last year, when we got given a nice start to the year and then Mazzarri made us concede 4 goals to Zdenek Zeman).
As far as the big games are concerned, we will first face Milan on matchday three as mentioned above, before hosting Fiorentina on matchday six and then Juventus on matchday eight (18 October), in the first Derby d'Italia of the year. Roma will travel to San Siro on matchday eleven (1 November), while on matchday fourteen (29 November) we will play Napoli at the San Paolo. The last 'big' team we will encounter are Lazio, who we will host on matchday seventeen (20 December) - the same weekend as last season, in fact. What that means is that in the second half of the season, we will have to play Milan, Fiorentina, Juve, Roma and Lazio all away from home - which could be tough. (The first and second halves of the season are exactly the same, just with the matches reversed.)
The full fixture list for all 20 clubs can be found here.
As for our run-in at the end of the season, it looks like this: Genoa (away), Udinese (home), Lazio (away), Empoli (home) and Sassuolo (away), where our season will end on Sunday 15th May 2016. With a 7-0 win, hopefully. Lazio aside, that too could have been harder for us.
Anyway, that's enough waffling for now. Good to be back, isn't it?
Here's Inter's full season in list form: