Ange Postecoglou walked into Tottenham Hotspur in June as the club's sixth-choice manager, with the added burden of having to accept that arguably his only world-class player, Harry Kane, was already planning to leave.
If the job description wasn't already tough enough for the 58-year-old, he also had to deal with a fan base that had become increasingly hostile to chairman Daniel Levy due to the club's repeated failure to win major honours.
Spurs were in turmoil, again, and the mood around the club was summed up by an Evening Standard headline on May 25 that described the search for a new manager as "depressing" following Arne Slot's decision to stay with Dutch champions Feyenoord.
Former Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann had already ruled himself out, while fans' choice Mauricio Pochettino chose to join rivals Chelsea over a second spell with Spurs. Vincent Kompany signed a new contract at Burnley and Roberto De Zerbi made clear he was staying at Brighton. By the time Spurs focused on former Australia boss Postecoglou, not even Levy could describe him as the man they had wanted to hire all along.
Four wins and a draw from their first five games, and 13 goals scored following Kane's €100 million move to Bayern Munich, has brought a rare feel-good factor to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Levy, who spoke this week at a fans' forum for the first time in six years, described Postecoglou as a "breath of fresh air."
With Pochettino enduring a nightmare start at Chelsea, who sit in 14th with just one win in five games, the yearning for the coach who guided Spurs to the 2019 Champions League final has been washed away by Postecoglou's brand of attacking football, as well as the Australian's straight-speaking personality.
The Postecoglou love-in is genuine, and proof that management is about getting the mood right off the pitch as much as on it. But honeymoon periods only last for so long and Spurs are now facing the first real test of that positivity.
With a home game against Liverpool on Sept. 30 to follow the derby, we are about to discover whether Postecoglou really does possess the magic touch.
Tottenham's start, as impressive as it has been, has benefited from a favourable fixture list. There have been wins against Burnley and Sheffield United, two promoted teams yet to register their first victory, and three points at a Bournemouth side that narrowly avoided relegation last season.
After opening the campaign with a draw at Brentford, Spurs defeated a Manchester United team that has recorded the club's worst start to a league season since 1989-90. So while wins are always good for confidence, they must also be put into context.
Still, that confidence will be crucial as Spurs prepare for their next two games. In recent seasons, momentum has gone the other way, so it will be a refreshing change for Spurs to go into two important fixtures with belief and morale high. But can their progress hold up against Arsenal and Liverpool? Can Spurs sustain their bright start without the safety net of Kane's goals?
Goals have already been spread around the team and that is a major positive. Son Heung-min, James Maddison, Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison have already scored important goals, while summer signings Micky van de Ven and Guglielmo Vicario have started well under Postecoglou.
Saturday's 2-1 win against Sheffield United came courtesy of two goals in stoppage time, so that was an indication of the newfound belief and togetherness that Postecoglou has quickly instilled. But Sunday's clash with Arsenal is, by some distance, the biggest test of the manager and his team.
The momentum built by the start to the season could take a dent if Tottenham fall short against Mikel Arteta's side and then Liverpool next week, but equally, Spurs could emerge on the other side with their unbeaten record intact and the Postecoglou positivity reaching new levels.
Spurs are a club that lurch between extremes of positivity and negativity -- there is rarely anything in-between. If Postecoglou can find that middle ground, it will mean that they are in the ascendancy again. But they'll need to get the next two games out of the way first.