The UEFA Europa League makes a welcome return on Thursday evening and the knockout stages of the competition promise to be one of the most hotly-contested of all-time.
Some high-profile teams have dropped down from the Champions League, adding to the luminaries already battling their way through the competition and all have their sights set on the final to be held in Lyon on May 16.
Arsenal are aiming to replicate the achievement of Manchester United last season in winning the Europa League and gaining a place in the Champions League for next season.
Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac arrive in snowy Ostersund for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie
Arsene Wenger is under pressure to return Arsenal to the Champions League next season
Manchester United are the reigning Europa League champions, having beaten Ajax 2-0
But their path will be blocked by a number of big names with similar aims, including Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Lazio, AC Milan, Lyon and Marseille.
Last Saturday's defeat by Tottenham in the north London derby has left Arsenal eight points off the top four in the Premier League, a deficit few would back them to make up.
With Arsene Wenger under pressure to restore the team to the Champions League next season, the Gunners will surely put all their focus on trying to win the Europa League as United did last term.
They have been drawn against Swedish side Ostersunds in the last-32, with the first leg set to take place in snow and freezing temperatures in the centre of Sweden on Thursday night.
Their opponents are managed by an Englishman in Graham Potter and have English players in their ranks, including midfielder Curtis Edwards, a man who just three years ago was working as a labourer on building sites close to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium home.
Assuming Arsenal advance, far tougher challenges will await. Atletico, for instance, are a club that have become accustomed to reaching the final of the Champions League in the recent past and are the bookmakers' favourite to win the Europa League this time around.
Antoine Griezmann stars for an Atletico Madrid side who are the bookies' favourites to win
Diego Simeone and his Atletico side have reached two Champions League finals in recent seasons but now return to a competition they won in 2010 and 2012
Diego Simeone's side finished third behind Roma and Chelsea in a tough Champions League group to find themselves in this situation, but they have pedigree in the continent's secondary tournament, winning it in 2010 and 2012.
Atleti, currently second behind Barcelona in La Liga, will start as strong favourites against Danish side Copenhagen in the last 32.
Napoli are another shark in the tank, having surprisingly finished six points behind Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League group.
The current Serie A leaders have been handed a testing draw against the Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, whose maiden Champions League campaign also ended in a third-place finish behind Besiktas and Porto.
Thursday's first leg fixtures
Astana vs Sporting Lisbon (4pm)
Borussia Dortmund vs Atalanta
Ludogorets Razgrad vs Milan
Marseille vs Sporting Braga
Nice vs Lokomotiv Moscow
Ostersunds vs Arsenal
Real Sociedad vs Red Bull Salzburg
Spartak Moscow vs Athletic Bilbao
AEK Athens vs Dynamo Kiev
Celtic vs Zenit St Petersburg
Copenhagen vs Atletico Madrid
Steaua Bucharest vs Lazio
Lyon vs Villarreal
Napoli vs RB Leipzig
Partizan Belgrade vs Viktoria Plzen
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Napoli are having a great season in Serie A but must now return their attention to Europe
Maurizio Sarri's Napoli team play some of the most exciting football in Europe at the moment and they have such stars as Dries Mertens, Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne at their disposal.
However, you wonder how seriously they will take the competition given their excellent chance of winning the Scudetto for the first time since 1990, thereby ending the recent domination of Juventus.
Borussia Dortmund are another strong side who have dropped down from the Champions League, where they performed badly to take only two points from a group containing Tottenham, Real Madrid and APOEL Nicosia.
Perhaps they will have better fortune in the Europa, but have been handed a tricky-looking tie with the Italians Atalanta, who stuffed eight goals past Everton over two group matches.
Borussia Dortmund have returned to winning form just in time for the Europa League return
Dortmund have regained their winning form since the arrival of Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea last month, but they too may be torn between trying to go the whole way in the Europa League or safeguarding their present third place in the Bundesliga and securing a return of Champions League nights next year.
Dortmund have been installed as the third favourites with the bookies behind Atletico and Arsenal, with Napoli fourth.
A strong Italian contingent continues with Lazio and Milan, who'll play Steaua Bucharest and Ludogorets Razgrad respectively in the round of 32.
Both are clubs with faded glories - Milan's glorious European successes certainly seem a lifetime ago - but they could be a decent outside bet especially given the springboard of winnable ties.
Lazio are another one of the Italian representatives hoping to go far in the Europa League
Milan are hoping to add to their extensive collection of European silverware come May
Lyon reached the semi-finals last season before being rolled over by Ajax and they return for another tilt at the title starting with a tie against Villarreal.
How they'd love to reach a final held in their own stadium and with the likes of Nabil Fekir, Mariano and Memphis Depay in their side, they have a chance.
They are currently in the top four in Ligue 1, as are Marseille, who have been drawn against the Portuguese side Braga.
Marseille are having a good season, even if they scraped through their group, and haven't lost since December with the likes of Florian Thauvin, Morgan Sanson, Dimitri Payet and Valere Germain ones to watch.
Memphis Depay in action for Lyon, the city which will host the Europa League final in May
The other sides to drop from the Champions League are Spartak Moscow, Sporting Lisbon, CSKA Moscow and Celtic.
The Scottish champions have been handed a testing draw against another Russian outfit, Zenit St Petersburg.
As ever with the Europa League and its Thursday nights, it helps to avoid a long-haul trip. Sporting Lisbon and Astana have been the unluckiest sides in the last-32 draw as they face a 15-hour, 7,600 mile round-trip in a true East meets West fixture.
Five ties to watch in the last-32
BORUSSIA DORTMUND vs ATALANTA
Dortmund have won their last two matches in the Bundesliga, with new loanee from Chelsea Michy Batshuayi starring, to recover from a barren spell.
They have never won the Europa League but may not be willing to risk the resources this season as they try to safeguard third place in the Bundesliga and Champions League return.
Atalanta impressed against Everton in the group stage, scoring eight goals in the two games, and are currently eighth in the Serie A table.
Live on BT Sport 1, Thursday at 6pm
COPENHAGEN vs ATLETICO MADRID
Diego Simeone's Atletico were Champions League finalists in 2014 and 2016 but dropped into the Europa League after finishing behind Roma and Chelsea in their Champions League group.
They won the secondary competition in 2010 and 2012 and will feel they can go all the way once again this time. They are the favourites with the bookmakers.
Copenhagen have played only twice since the Danish winter break, winning one and losing one.
Live on BT Sport ESPN and BT Sport Showcase, Thursday at 8.05pm
NAPOLI vs RB LEIPZIG
A meeting of two teams who have dropped down from the Champions League as Maurizio Sarri's exciting Serie A leaders take on the side currently second in the Bundesliga.
Napoli have a dilemma, however, because concentrating on the Europa League will detract from their bid to win the Scudetto for the first time since 1990 and prevent Juventus winning a seventh straight title.
Leipzig are fresh to European competition this season and could well be a dark horse if they can negotiate this tricky draw.
Live on BT Sport 1, Thursday at 8.05pm
LYON vs VILLARREAL
With the final set to be held in their own stadium, there is a real incentive for last season's semi-finalists Lyon to go for it.
They are having a pretty good season and could well qualify for the Champions League next season through their league position in Ligue 1.
Villarreal have a chance of finishing in the top four in Spain but would have to bridge a five-point gap to Real Madrid.
Live on BT Sport 3, Thursday at 8.05pm
LUDOGORETS vs AC MILAN
Milan's European glory days seem a distant memory now but they are attempting to rebuild their reputation under Gennaro Gattuso and a run deep into the Europa League would certainly aid that.
They haven't lost yet in 2018 and have been handed a favourable draw against the Bulgarians Ludogorets, who haven't played a match since the middle of December.
Live on BT Sport ESPN and BT Sport Showcase, Thursday at 6pm