The Premiership might be in cold storage, but Hearts are more than doing their bit to keep the temperature up.
Almost every day of 2020, there has been some fresh drama involving the Edinburgh club.
Captain Christophe Berra – a man with more than 200 appearances in a maroon shirt – got married a week past Friday, then was axed by the club almost while the bride’s bouquet was still in the air.
“Hurt and angry”, the 34-year-old can leave on loan or on a permanent deal and won’t be involved with the first team, at least not under Daniel Stendel’s charge.
Fellow veteran Glenn Whelan, who described himself as having been “thrown under the bus” on receiving similar treatment, wrote off eight months of his deal.
Craig Wighton, a guest at Berra’s nuptials, likewise returned to find out he was not part of the new manager’s rebuilding plans, while Aidan Keena has been offloaded to Hartlepool United and Jake Mulraney is in talks to move to the MLS for a six-figure sum.
Amidst all the chaos, there have been arrivals, led by Jorg Sievers – who played and coached alongside Stendel at Hannover FC – coming in as the German’s assistant.
Teenage pair Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald have been recalled early from loans with Dunfermline, while Barnsley pair Mamdou Thiam and Jordan Green, two of the Stendel’s former players, may move north on loan.
And Liam Lindsay, once of Partick Thistle, has been targeted for a move up from Stoke City.
What lessons are to be learned from this blizzard of activity?
The treatment of Berra, in particular, points to the new manager either having a lack of diplomatic skills, or not caring about those who don’t fit into his high-press, high-energy plans.
If Keena’s departure hints at hardness too, it also shows the German’s willingness to change his mind.
The Republic of Ireland youth internationalist was handed a start against St Johnstone, Stendel’s first game in charge, for his willingness to graft and be physical.
But he has been quickly jettisoned for not being up to the standard required.
There is solid logic behind the recalls of Cochrane and McDonald.
Young players have a better chance of adopting to the demands of the pressing game, with James Forrest, Callum McGregor and Stuart Armstrong all advancing their careers through the switch to the system after Brendan Rodgers rolled up at Celtic Park in 2016.
After the turbulence of the first half of the season, it surely makes sense for Hearts to reconnect with the support through promoting home-produced talent, with Stendel citing Aaron Hickey as an example for others to follow.
Good intentions will come to nought, though, unless the new man is able to galvanise his squad into a run that gets them off the bottom of the table soon after their return to action.
Fail, and he will end up being to Craig Levein what David Moyes was to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United – a temporary bridge between a long-serving figurehead and the future.
Albeit Stendel does not have quite as much to live up to!
With the new man having spent five long weeks negotiating his position with Hearts, it is a safe bet that’s a prospect that will leave him cold.