A swelling of ambition at the club became clear as links to former internationalists Nuno Gomes, Ismael Bouzid and Christian Nade rained down as a new regime was paraded; a consortium led by pub chain owner Lee Murray and comprising former directors Brian McNeill and Davie Hamilton completing a takeover in June. The new board's vision was fixed initially on fusing a squad with recognised professionals - Nade has been joined by Robbie Neilson, Gary Naysmith and Stephen Hughes - but the club has since scanned broader horizons.
The responsibilities of Willie Aitchison have also come to frame a bigger picture, with the former Hearts and Cowdenbeath academy coach recruited as the manager of the first team but also the project being implemented at Bayview. Such a term is imperfect since a manager's success is still defined by results and East Fife are currently hunched in eighth place in SPFL League 1, just two points off the bottom. It is enough to distort the earlier sense of grandeur but can be made to look better from a different angle - the Methil side are six points off the promotion play-off places having lost just once in their last four matches, a run which includes a win away to Dunfermline Athletic last weekend.
That match allowed Hughes to make his first appearance of the season, the former Scotland midfielder given 72 minutes after agreeing a contract until January earlier this month, while Nade could make his competitive debut today following surgery on a knee problem. The condition of senior players is a common concern for managers but Aitchison has not allowed them to rest idly, embellishing their routines with appearances around the community.
The main purpose has been to reintroduce the club gently to the neighbourhood. "We have been looking at ways to build up interest and that comes from the players we have, such as Christian Nade, Robbie, Gary, Stephen and Liam [Buchanan]," said Aitchison, who also limited his side to local opposition in pre-season in an effort to entice more Methil residents to matches. "If you can get people on board then it helps and the average attendance is up by 25% or 30% from last year, so it is working."
Those statistics are recounted proudly and will be bolstered by the visit of Rangers to Bayview today, yet there are still numbers which have added little satisfaction. East Fife have made 19 signings since the summer - albeit Paul Willis simply made permanent a loan from Dunfermline - and Aitchison has little intention of repeating the scale of such upheaval, intending instead to measure potential new arrivals against the promise shown by those in the club's youth system. The funding which followed the takeover at first allowed senior players to be signed on full-time contracts but the club has also extended similar deals to the under-20s team to help smooth the path into the senior squad.
"My brief from the chairman was to turn the club round as much as trying to stay in League 1," said Aitchison. "If we just kept on going round in circles, bringing players in and then releasing them at the end of the season and signing up another group of players for the following season, the club will not move on at all. We have some very good players here aged 17, 18 and we have to turn them into proper professionals quickly so that at the end of the season we are not looking for 20 new players but maybe just five."
A desire for the club's aspiring youngsters to mature quickly is perhaps informed in part by the pace at which their more experienced colleagues are passing through Methil, since both Naysmith and Hughes would seem likely to move on when their contracts expire in January. Their departures might serve to diminish the noises made by the club's board but Aitchison would not seem to be caught up in a sense of rhetoric, conscious instead of a need to adhere to his own principles.
"Irrespective of if you are Alistair McCoist or myself, you have to have a plan," he said. "The problem we are having is that we are trying to play a style composite of getting the ball down and, unfortunately, it's not what this league has been geared for in the last 10 years. We have to combat that but we know the people here like to be entertained."