BERLIN – The German football season opens with the Super Cup on Saturday as Borussia Dortmund duel with Bayern Munich for the first - but probably not the last – time this campaign.
"The Super Cup carries a great significance for all of us," Dortmund captain Marco Reus said after Tuesday's final friendly, a 4-1 romp over Swiss side St Gallen.
"It's a title up for grabs, it's important to make a good start to the season and to show our fans that we're out to achieve something."
Reus has made no secret of the fact Dortmund, Bundesliga runners-up last season, are out to go one better by becoming champions this term.
That would end Bayern's seven-year title streak since Dortmund last claimed the honour in 2012.
Coach Lucien Favre has been given both more quality and depth to work with from the squad which came up just two points short in the table a few months ago.
Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich) and Nico Schulz (Hoffenheim) are significant arrivals while Abdou Diallo (Paris Saint-Germain) and Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) the main departures.
Brandt will miss out of the Super Cup, hosted by Dortmund, while Hazard and home keeper Roman Buerki are injury doubts.
"The Super Cup is a match with lots of potential," said back-up keeper Marwin Hitz, "That's when it really starts for us."
Reus did admit that it is "equally clear that neither we nor Bayern are at 100 per cent," going into tie which limits its value as a predictor for the season ahead.
Bayern have been involved in the Super Cup every year since 2012, winning four and losing three, so are used to both positive and negative outcomes.
"The Super Cup is a good game," coach Niko Kovac said after losing Bayern's last friendly on penalties to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday. "I have taken it very seriously last year and we'll take it seriously in Dortmund at the weekend."
Twelve months ago Kovac watched his side cruise 5-0 over his former club Eintracht Frankfurt to open a season which ended with the domestic double.
But he survived a poor run of form early on and a good start this season is likely crucial for his future.
"The current condition of the team is very good," said Kovac, though he has publicly hoped for more reinforcements.
Bayern have added World Cup winning defenders Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, and young striker Fiete Arp this close season.
But all three deals were agreed months ago and the weeks since the German Cup win over RB Leipzig in May have been spent on a - so far - fruitless search for wingers to replace the departed Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
French wide player Kingsley Coman is a slight doubt for Saturday having picked up a knock against Spurs though Kovac said "he'll play again in the next few days."
Win or lose against Dortmund, Bayern will have work to do before the Bundesliga start against Hertha Berlin on August 16.
But for 90 minutes – and possibly penalties – all their concentration can go on beating their old rivals.
"We are looking forward to the game on Saturday, to our first match for the first title," said midfielder Thomas Mueller.dpa