After selling Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United for £50m last summer, many expected Crystal Palace to struggle heading into the new season. The club's lack of recruitment following the young full back's move - they spent a total of just £2.5m bringing players in - had many questioning whether the club's Premier League status was in jeopardy.
Rumours that Wilfried Zaha was on his way out followed and it seemed like the club were in a real state of turmoil heading into the 2019/20 season, but one huge detail was overlooked. Crystal Palace have Roy Hodgson at the helm.
Following the club's return to the Premier League in 2013, the club quickly ran through a number of managers with Ian Holloway, Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew and Frank de Boer all managing the team in the space of four years, but the appointment of Hodgson back in 2017 has instilled a real sense of stability at the club and it's only benefited the team's on field performances.
Hodgson - who became the oldest manager in Premier League history last year at the age of 72 - took a Crystal Palace side entrenched in the relegation zone when he arrived at Selhurst Park and helped establish them as regulars in mid-table.
The former England manager has found a way to get the best out of his players and is winning games despite the lack of a prolific goalscorer. Hodgson's style of play focuses on the entire team and they don't rely on the form of any individual to get results.
Zaha may have been seen as the one real star at Selhurst and a talismanic figure capable of keeping the club out of trouble. Yet even his high-profile struggles this season haven't hindered Palace in the slightest in 2019/20 and a large part of that is down to the way Hodgson has his team playing.
The Ivorian's form has fallen off a cliff following last summer's transfer saga, but with the club no longer relying on the output of a single player to get results, the team have continued to get results.
Jordan Ayew leads the side with nine league goals, but no-one else in the team has managed to score more than three. In fact, only Norwich have scored fewer league goals than Palace this season, but it's the Eagles' excellent defence that has seen the team outperform some of the more 'talented' teams below them.
Hodgson has forged an incredibly disciplined defensive unit at the club and Palace currently have the sixth-best defensive record in the Premier League, with only Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester, Sheffield United and Manchester United conceding fewer than the Eagles.
In a world where more and more top-flight clubs are able and willing to throw huge amounts of money around to bring in new players, Palace and Hodgson's pared-back approach is all the more praiseworthy.
The 72-year old hasn't spent more than £10m on a single player since his arrival at Selhurst Park almost three years ago and it's worked for him so far as he continues to eke the best out of cheaper options, whether that be looking towards Crystal Palace's youth teams or in the transfer market.
It was under Hodgson that Wan-Bisakka was given the chance to burst onto the scene, quickly becoming one of the best right-backs in the league and worthy of a £50m transfer.
It was Hodgson who brought in Gary Cahill on a free transfer, with the veteran centre back quickly becoming an integral part in Palace's excellent defence, despite having been written off by many prior to the move.
When he has spent money, he's spent wisely, with Ayew proving an absolute steal at just £2.5m from Championship side Swansea.
As things stand, this season will be Crystal Palace's best-ever finish in the Premier League (the club has never ended a campaign in the Premier League higher than 10th), while seven more points from eight games will also give them a record end of season tally.
And if they do achieve those things, it's 72-year-old Hodgson who deserves the credit for the well run and defensively disciplined team he's crafted at Selhurst Park.
It's a far cry from the one he inherited just three short years ago and a rare oasis of stability in a league filled with clubs seemingly on the edge.