Any hopes the Russian Premier League had of securing a World Cup dividend were dashed by the sale by CSKA Moscow of midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, one of the stars of the national side’s surprise run to the World Cup quarter-finals, to Monaco in a € 30million deal.
The most high-profile name to move into Russia – just as everyone else was leaving after the World Cup – was German defender Benedikt Howedes, who joined champions Lokomotiv Moscow from Schalke after an injury-hit season on loan at Juventus last year. And he was joined by Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak, on another season-long loan after his spell last season at West Bromwich Albion.
CSKA also bade farewell to centrebacks Sergei Igneshevich and Vasili Berezutski, who both retired, but they did pick up Iceland defender Hordur Magnusson from Bristol City.
Krasnodar were one of the busier sides in the transfer market, signing Peruvian World Cup star Christian
Cueva from Sao Paulo, as well as Serbian defender Uros Spajic from Anderlecht and midfielder Dmitri Stotskiy from newly promoted Ufa.
The lack of big-name arrivals in the country was accompanied by concerns over the uncertain future facing a number of the World Cup stadiums.
In the past, new World Cup arenas have provided a boost to the local domestic league, as in the case of Italy after the 1990 World Cup and post-2006 Germany. But South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 offer salutary lessons that a finals can leave a country with plenty of white-elephant grounds, with small crowds unable to populate the vast new complexes.
Only six of Russia’s 12 World Cup venues will host Premier League football this season: Kazan, Rostov, Saint Petersburg, Moscow Spartak (now known again as Otkritie Arena), Samara and Yekaterinburg. The latter, home to Ural Yekaterinburg, is facing problems over the dismantling of the gravitydefying temporary stands that boosted crowds at the World Cup. They are supposed to be coming down but the local council has called for financial support from central government to enable that to happen.
Alexander Fetisov, deputy governor of Samara, told the Financial Times that central government help was still needed to fund the cost of reconstruction and running costs of Rbs500m (£6m) a year.
Elsewhere, Volgograd (Rotor), Kaliningrad (Baltika Kaliningrad) and Saransk (Mordovia Saransk) will host second-tier clubs, while Nizhny Novgorod will become the home of an eponymous third-tier club.
Down in Sochi, the coastal resort that was the scene of some of the most exciting games at the World Cup, including the 3-3 draw between Spain and Portugal, Dinamo Saint Petersburg have relocated in a highly controversial move orchestrated by Boris Rotenberg, a businessman and close ally of Vladimir Putin. Dinamo, the second team in Saint Petersburg with crowds of just a few hundred, have been renamed FC Sochi, taking the name of a club that briefly featured in the third division a few seasons ago before sinking back into the amateur ranks. Whether their future is sustainable remains to be seen.
Lokomotiv will be the team to beat, with Portuguese striker Eder recruited on a permanent basis from Lille. Their closest challenger could be Zenit, who have replaced Roberto Mancini with Sergei Semak. They also welcome back Artem Dzyuba after his loan at Arsenal Tula, where he forced his way into the World Cup squad.
However, memories of that tournament are already fading fast.
South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 offer salutary lessons that a World Cup can leave a country with plenty of white-elephant grounds
Opening day...Rubin Kazan (in white) and Krasnodar
Silverware...CSKA won the 2018 Russian Super Cup