FWHOO, ring, eeek. Fwhoo, ring, eeek. This atonal symphony has been chiming around my mind since 1pm on Wednesday when the school bell belted out to signal the start of the summer holidays scorched into my mind as a seven-week secondment to the role of breakfast manager, playtime master, snack haggler, boxing referee, lunch coordinator, afternoon decryptor, dinner chef, bath scrubber, pyjama placer, film flinger-on-er, story reader and bed covers tucker-under-so-tight-they-can’t-come-out-and-interrupt-my-TV-time commenced.

The fwhoo, incidentally, was the sound of the full-time whistle in Dingwall an aeon ago (June 4) that brought down the curtain on the Scottish football season. And the eeek is the shriek that has been emanating from my mouth ever since these two events collided in midweek.

Every couple of years between World Cups and European Championships, June comes round like a bale of tumbleweed through some dusty old town. The summer transfer window holds our attention like Test Card F. (You remember that creepy image they used to put on the BBC when no programmes were playing, with the little girl in the middle playing knots and crosses with the doll from Saw.)

Every now and again a player, maybe a new manager, will issue a blast of hot air our way, but in its wake comes that tumbleweed again as we wait for the action to commence.

We know Celtic have a new (well, new-old) manager. We know Michael Beale has signed up to the football equivalent of Costco and is bulk buying an entire squad as Rangers attempt to reset after a trophyless campaign. Everyone is itching to get back to the rodeo almost as soon as the banjos were hung up after the end-of-season hoedown. Soon there will be the dreaded preseason friendlies – those exhibitions for fourth officials to show off their numbers-board skills at the myriad substitutions these festivals of frustration fling up.

The Herald: A fourth official holds up boardA fourth official holds up board (Image: SNS)

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But, after that, the Viaplay Cup group stage will kick things off in a somewhat competitive sense in just over two weeks’ time: cue 4-4 draws, yellow cards for "triallist" and penalty shootouts to decide who takes home coveted bonus points. That’ll come round in less time than has elapsed since Partick Thistle wilted like an unnurtured nettle at Ross County in the Premiership play-off final.

Hibernian, after finishing fifth in the table, will be first out the blocks on the continent this season in the Europa Conference League second qualifying round on July 27, with the second leg taking place a week later on August 3 before the Premiership season kicks off in earnest on August 5.

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Hearts, who finished just above their city rivals, were also helped by Celtic winning the Scottish Cup in passing on the European qualifying advantage, and the Tynecastle side enter the European third-tier competition at the third qualifying round, with their first leg coming on August 10, when Hibs will be hoping to join them in chasing a play-off berth to reach the group stage.

Aberdeen, meanwhile, who pipped the Edinburgh sides to third place last season, are in Europa League qualifying and enter at the play-off stage where they are guaranteed group-stage football, either in the second-tier tournament or in the Conference League should they come up short in their Russian roulette tie which takes place on August 24 and 31.

With crucial, potentially money-spinning encounters coming thick and fast between the first month of Premiership fixtures, this spell will test the limits of the top three clubs outside Glasgow’s big two. Just look at what happened to Dundee United last season. After defeating AZ 1-0 in the Europa Conference League third qualifying round first leg in the midweek sandwiched between their first two Premiership fixtures, Jack Ross’s side lost at home to Livingston that weekend before being trounced 7-0 in the return leg in Alkmaar. A 4-1 doing from Hearts, 3-0 defeat at home to St Mirren followed by a disastrous 9-0 drubbing by Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic consigned Ross to an early exit after such a promising start. Things never really recovered from there, with Liam Fox also being shown the door in the second half of the season and Jim Goodwin failing to arrest a slide towards the Championship after finishing bottom of the pile.

The Herald: Celtic manager Brendan RodgersCeltic manager Brendan Rodgers (Image: SNS)

Celtic, shiny in their new uniforms and with their old favourite headmaster back in charge, will start the coming campaign with only their domestic duties to worry about before the Champions League group stage begins in late September. It’s an ominous picture for everyone else. Rangers, should they successfully negotiate the qualifying rounds as they did last term, face eight competitive matches in the month of August alone as they look to clutch the Champions League riches at the same time as wresting Celtic’s grasp of the league title in the direction of Govan. Look where then-manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who had led them to the Europa League final the season before, ended up. It’s going to be a mammoth task for his successor Beale as he embarks on his first full season in charge.

Players will always tell you they’d rather be playing; that like those of us watching, they just want the season to get started again. But, much as us parents will feel after the first full week of the ringing of alarm clocks, inhaled breakfasts, production lines of showers, teeth brushing and dressing, school bags, snack boxes, drink flasks, car runs, traffic lights, lollypop men who appear to be auditioning for Just Stop Oil, and that dreaded morning bell mocking your tardiness as you wrangle the troops over the top in the hope of surviving to fight another day (when you get to do it all again), while Beale will be anxious to test out his new-look squad and put into practice his battle plan for the coming term, the chips are stacked heavily in his opposite number’s favour.

Rodgers, fresh from a four-month hiatus after his departure from Leicester at the start of April, inherits an all-conquering side on the domestic front with a squad built to withstand the waves of fixtures their various cup runs and European efforts throw at them. The Northern Irishman, between now and the start of the season, will probably continue to bolster his ranks, and with the cash injection of another year of Champions League money already secured, this pattern does not look like changing any time soon. The task for Beale and Rangers could hardly be more daunting.