In terms of opponents, this will be one of the most low-key tours for Manchester City this decade.
Not since 2012 when pre-season fixtures included Al-Hilal, a Malaysia XI and Limerick have the Blues been so lacking in matches against the biggest teams; the last three years under Pep Guardiola have included games with United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool.
This summer, they will take on West Ham United and either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Newcastle United in the Premier League Asia Trophy before heading on to play Hong Kong side Kitchee SC and Japanese sister club Yokohama F Marinos. None are games to set the pulses racing for the moneymakers looking at blockbuster friendlies, yet they should prove useful to the manager as City look to improve again.
All three are teams that Guardiola and his side have struggled against in recent years. They lost a significant game to Newcastle back in January after a few narrow victories over Rafael Benitez’s side, Wolves were the first team last season to take points off them having also ran them close in the league cup the previous year while West Ham came closer than nearly every other Premier League side to taking points from the Etihad.
Newcastle and Wolves between them were responsible for almost a third of all the points City dropped last season, and the Blues will face one of them in Shanghai after playing West Ham three days earlier.
Matches will not be the only opportunity to soak up the feel of the clubs and try to identify weaknesses that they can exploit. Given it is a Premier League competition out in Asia, City will be sharing press conference duties with Wolves on one day and all three clubs on another and the teams will also be training around the games.
As is stands, the biggest challenges for the title are expected to come from Liverpool and Tottenham but one of Guardiola’s longest ongoing struggles in the past two years has been to break through defences that are set out to stifle the Blues.
With more time this summer to scrutinise some of the trickier opponents, City should be able to reap the benefits once the Premier League season returns – especially with a trip to West Ham on the opening day.