Bayern aim to become European champions for a sixth time, Leipzig take a step into the unknown and who knows what to expect from Dortmund. In the Europa League, Hertha and Cologne return to the continental stage.
Bayern's desire to clinch Europe's biggest prize for the first time since 2013 has increased at roughly the same rate as their domestic dominance during that period. Depsite a surprising but ultimately short lived challenge from RB Leipzig last season, the Bavarians are peerless in the Bundesliga so increasingly define their seasons by results in the Champions League. Pep Guardiola's failure to add that trophy to his collection saw him depart the Allianz Arena and cup specialist Carlo Ancelotti brought in.
However, in his first season in Bavaria, the Italian fared no better than his Catalan counterpart, exiting the tournament to eventual winners Real Madrid in a frenetic, controversy-filled tie. Bayern moved quickly to strengthen an already powerful squad in the off-season, raiding Hoffenheim for Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy, making Kingsley Coman's loan move permanent, snapping up James Rodriguez from Madrid on loan and breaking their transfer record for Corentin Tolisso.
Those new arrivals, most of whom have already played in the Champions League, add to an experienced squad of serial title winners. They may also go some way to easing concerns about the age of an attack which still relies heavily on Franck Ribery (34), Arjen Robben (33) but even more heavily on Robert Lewandoski (pictured, above left). Age is not such a concern for the Polish striker, he's 28, but the home loss to Madrid in the last eight, when the Polish striker was absent, showed that - for all their strength - Bayern still don't have an adequate back-up striker.
RB Leipzig should be comfortable with new experiences. The controversial eastern German outfit thrived in their debut Bundesliga campaign but now face another step up in quality in just their eighth season of existence. They've continued with their transfer policy of buying young players with potential, including winger Bruma from Galatasaray and PSG forward Jean-Kevin Augustin. But their most important business is probably the retention of Timo Werner and Naby Keita, who has drawn strong interest from Liverpool.
Their fearless domestic displays suggest Leipzig won't be awed by the step up in quality. They may face an uphill battle though, with their lack of European pedigree meaning they are likely to be seeded third, or even fourth, for the group stages.
Dortmund's European campaign last year was overshadowed by the bomb attack on their bus that injured Marc Bartra and forced the rescheduling of their quarterfinal first leg with Monaco. The new season has also seen off-the-pitch events dominate the headlines made by the club. First it seemed star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was off, now Ousmane Demebele is the subject of a huge bid from Barcelona and first went on strike before being suspended by BVB.
But, at the time of writing, both players remain and Dortmund have made some astute signings in the shape of Max Philipp from Freiburg, Ömer Toprak from Leverkusen and Mahmoud Dahoud from Gladbach. But, as has often been the case for Dortmund in recent years, their lack of experience seems certain to count against them in crunch moments in Europe. That being said, beaten semifinalists Monaco proved that exuberance and momentum can carry a team further than initially seems possible.
So much of Julian Nagelsmann's staggering work last season could be undone in 180 minutes of football, with his side facing a two-legged playoff with Liverpool over the next week in a straight shootout for the group stages. As is dispiritingly habitual in the Bundesliga, Hoffenheim's overachievement last year saw their best two players picked off - with Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle heading to Bayern. Serge Gnabry has gone the other way on loan but other signings, like Havard Nordtveit from West Ham, don't look like the inspirational arrivals fans may have hoped for.
That said, Nagelsmann has worked wonders with the club since being promoted from within to coach the Bundesliga side in October 2015 so there may be little doubting he can do it again. He'll just have to get past Jürgen Klopp first.
Austrian bench boss Peter Stöger has done wonders in turning around a storied club that yo-yoed between the top two divisions for much of the past 20 years. The Austrian coach has steadily built the Cologne into a solid outfit who have never been threatened by relegation in his four seasons in the Rhineland.
The dark cloud for the Billy Goats is the departure of Anthony Modeste. The French forward scored 25 of Cologne's 51 league goals last term before his acrimonius departure for China and he's been replaced by Jhon Cordoba, who scored just five league goals for a struggling Mainz side (one every 471 minutes). Stöger's defensive organization will prove sufficient domestically but it's questionable whether Cologne have the quality or squad depth to fight on multiple fronts.
The capital city club have managed to avoid the ignominy of a second qualifying-round exit from the Europa League by qualifying directly for the group stage. Pal Dardai's men again overachieved last term and have moved to strengthen the aging forward line of Saloman Kalou (32) and Vedad Ibisevic (33) with the signing of Davie Selke (22) from Leipzig. Like Cologne, Hertha's success is built on a solid defensive foundation and promising full backs Mitchell Weiser and Marvin Plattenhardt should go into the season on a high after winning the European under-21 Championship and Confederations Cup, respecitvely, with Germany. Weiser even scored the winner in the U-21 final.
Defensive stalwart John Brooks moved to Wolfsburg, becoming the most American soccer player of all time in the process, but otherwise Hertha have kept their squad together. Again, as is the case with Cologne, there are questions about their offensive quality but Dardai has built a reputation of getting the most from meager resources. This year he'll need to make them stretch even further to make an impact in Europe.