Crystal Palace's recently concluded campaign divides neatly into two, as following a sluggish start, a change of management marked their re-birth as one of the Premier League's ebullient entertainers.
A season bound for disappointment and fraught with relegation danger enjoyed a springtime blossoming under an old Selhurst Park favourite, as Patrick Vieira's project suddenly ran out of steam and Roy Hodgson returned to steady the ship.
Rather than stolidly grinding their way to safety under the ex-England manager, though, Palace instead played their best football of the season and sprinted towards the finish line in some style.
Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Crystal Palace's 2022-23 campaign.
Final league position: 11th
EFL Cup: Third Round
FA Cup: Third Round
Top scorer: Eberechi Eze (10)
Most assists: Michael Olise (11)
Competing in the Premier League for the 10th season in a row, Crystal Palace have quietly become part of the top-flight furniture, but after a promising first year under the leadership of Patrick Vieira they had aspirations of pushing on towards the top half. However, events did not unfold in that manner.
After taking one point from their first two fixtures - a first-day defeat to Arsenal followed by a 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield - the Eagles secured their first success by beating Aston Villa 3-1 back at Selhurst Park.
The latter result, though, turned out to be Palace's only victory over a team that finished in the top 10, as momentum ebbed away with a series of draws and defeats - several of which went by without Vieira's men scoring a goal.
Even accounting for their late-season revival, the Croydon club failed to find the net 16 times in the Premier League this season - only Bournemouth fared worse in that regard.
Either side of the World Cup break, successive losses against Nottingham Forest and Fulham followed an EFL Cup exit at the hands of Newcastle United, and after a solid enough start, doubts rose about the team's direction. Losing at home to Southampton in the FA Cup third round certainly did not help.
At its worst, the crisis of confidence saw Palace fail to record a single shot on target across four games against modest opposition, and they were starting to glance nervously over their shoulders by March, when the axe finally fell.
With Vieira's reign quickly consigned to history, the club hierarchy moved swiftly to re-appoint Roy Hodgson - a decision which drew much derision considering the vastly experienced coach's age and inability to keep Watford afloat one year earlier.
However, along with his coaching team, he was quick to free up a squad which had been straitjacketed for too long, and flair players such as Eberechi Eze, Michael Olise and Wilfried Zaha were allowed to roam free and do what they do best.
Palace saw off Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton in consecutive games - all three were subsequently relegated while the Eagles instead soared up the standings - and within weeks Hodgson had steered his boyhood club to within touching distance of safety.
Further home wins over West Ham United and Bournemouth sealed mid-table security for Hodgson's stylish side, before the season concluded in comfort with successive draws.
Following all the gloom of mid-season, Palace had stayed up by a margin of 11 points and finished above big-spending London rivals Chelsea in the final Premier League table.
PREMIER LEAGUE STATS
Wins: 11 (13th)
Draws: 12 (=3rd)
Losses: 15 (11th)
Goals scored: 40 (14th)
Goals conceded: 49 (9th)
Yellow cards: 80 (=4th)
Red cards: 3 (=2nd)
Passes: 15,707 (13th)
Shots: 426 (14th)
Big chances missed: 24 (20th)
Saves: 116 (=7th)
Tackles: 690 (6th)
Own goals: 4 (=4th)
Hit woodwork: 10 (=14th)
Clearances: 788 (5th)
HOW DID IT COMPARE TO LAST SEASON?
In a season of promise under Patrick Vieira, who had stepped into the dugout after Roy Hodgson vacated the Selhurst Park hotseat with an emotional farewell, several shock results made observers sit up and take notice throughout Crystal Palace's 2021-22 campaign.
Ultimately, the Eagles only ended up in 12th position - one place lower than this season - but Vieira led his bright young side to victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, as well as leading them out at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final.
They seemed to have taken steps towards challenging England's established order, and some impressive home form was the foundation for such success. Again, in a more turbulent 2022-23 season, Palace lost only five of their 19 home fixtures in the league.
Vieira had a clear-eyed vision to implement possession-based football and took the club to within a point of their highest Premier League total, yet this year his commitment to such principles faded and Palace were aimlessly drifting towards danger when the former Nice boss was finally fired.
With Hodgson's arrival heralding an immediate uplift in results, the Eagles went on to post 45 points - only three fewer than last term - and though they scored 10 fewer goals in 2022-23, their defensive record was relatively similar.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON: EBERECHI EZE
While Crystal Palace's central-defensive pair have drawn praise throughout the season - both Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi impressed and are surely capable of going on to even greater things - the club's remarkable renaissance during the spring was by far the best part of a formerly dismal campaign.
The fleet-footed Michael Olise and hard-running Andre Ayew of course played their part - in addition to Wilfried Zaha, when available - but it was the joyous performances of Eberechi Eze that again won the hearts of fans and neutrals alike.
Finishing with a flourish by scoring six times in his last nine games, Eze also added a clinical edge to longstanding promise in the opposition area, and there could be more to come in the future.
Relentlessly dribbling at opponents with pace and precision, his goals took the Eagles well clear of the bottom three and earned an England call-up into the bargain.
It is the first time the South Londoner has been selected at senior level by the Three Lions, and his sparkling form since Roy Hodgson arrived as Palace manager sees the 24-year-old join Marc Guehi and Sam Johnstone in Gareth Southgate's latest squad.
STANDOUT RESULT: LEEDS UNITED 1-5 CRYSTAL PALACE
As much for its symbolic nature as its comprehensive scoreline, Crystal Palace's crushing of then relegation rivals Leeds in front of a stunned Elland Road faithful will live long in the memory.
Trailing 1-0 heading into first-half stoppage time, Marc Guehi's goal just before the break galvanised Roy Hodgson's side and they then produced a quite spectacular display after the interval.
Equalling their biggest away win in the Premier League era, the Eagles took their total to seven goals in two games following Hodgson's return - one more than in their previous 15 - as Eberechi Eze and Odsonne Edouard both scored in the second half and Jordan Ayew bagged a brace.
Sending Leeds into a downward spiral from which they would never really recover, Palace were a team transformed from that which had toiled so badly in the preceding weeks, and despite enduring some subsequent bumps in the road they simply never looked back.
The man ultimately responsible for that Elland Road blitz - in alliance with trusted assistants Ray Lewington and Paddy McCarthy - Roy Hodgson's springtime signing was surely the moment when everything changed for Crystal Palace this season.
Doubts persisted about the wisdom of his re-appointment, and many in the media made plain their reasoning that he was yesterday's man, yet Hodgson's steely character lies beneath a charming exterior, and the benefit of his huge experience made all the difference for a directionless young side.
The 75-year-old has managed his nation, plus giant clubs such as Liverpool and Inter - albeit not entirely successfully - and is a proven specialist at extracting the best from squads nearer the bottom of the top-flight pecking order.
When the ex-Fulham boss arrived, Palace were winless in 12 Premier League matches and lay just three points above the drop zone with 10 games to go; by the campaign's conclusion, his vibrant team had soared to safety and opened up the possibility of having one last dance at Selhurst Park in 2023-24.
TOP PRIORITY FOR SUMMER
Having started the season in a mode of continuity - following much upheaval when Roy Hodgson departed a year earlier, alongside several experienced players - once again Crystal Palace must deal with some major issues in terms of personnel.
After spending his eighth full season at Selhurst Park across two spells, Wilfried Zaha's contract expires this summer - bringing familiar conjecture about where the mercurial winger's future will lie.
Signing both the Ivorian and Hodgson on new deals would represent a desire to continue where they left off at the end of 2022-23, but will chairman Steve Parish instead decide to make a clean break? That would be a risky manoeuvre.
Whether their beloved boss stays or not, Palace now have a model in place for a future filled with attacking, proactive play - but bringing in a goalscoring striker could make all the difference in their push for an elusive top-10 finish.
Filling the void left by Conor Gallagher's departure last year has proved difficult, too, so the arrival of another midfielder with such energy and commitment would not go amiss.
It has been confirmed that club captain Luka Milivojevic and vice-captain James McArthur will depart at the end of their contracts, so some more experienced heads in the dressing room may also be a sound investment, given the relatively low average age of the squad.
Undoubtedly, retaining both Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi - the rock on which their free-flowing football is built - will be crucial as well, with vultures beginning to glide above the Eagles' defensive duo.
A season which threatened to slip into a downward spiral towards the Championship instead ended with an impressive cruise towards top-flight security, and in the end, Crystal Palace managed to achieve their customary mid-table finish.
Evidently, everything rested on a painful decision to pull the plug on Patrick Vieira's reign and bring home a legendary figure, with Roy Hodgson not only steering his local club to safety but also painting the picture of brighter times to come in South London.
For now, joy and relief will be the overriding emotions at Selhurst Park, but many questions remain about the Eagles' mid-term future.