All eyes on Mario Gotze as Borussia Dortmund face Bayern in Super Cup
Borussia Dortmund will play their first official match of the season against Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup on Sunday.
Whether the match at the sold-out Westfalenstadion is to be regarded a glorified friendly, or a welcomed appetiser of what is to come in the next Bundesliga season is up for debate.
The occasion will be a good benchmark for either team to see on what level they are two weeks before the domestic campaign kicks off, whether there is a trophy to lift or not.
However, the focus has hardly been on the match itself. The most talked about question is: How will the Sudtribune -- Europe's biggest football stand with 25,000 supporters -- react when Mario Gotze approaches it in a yellow shirt?
The answer to that question won't be as spectacular as many might expect. When the midfielder walked out of the tunnel to be greeted by 30,000 fans at Borussia Dortmund's team presentation on Saturday, many cheers drowned out what few boos there might have been.
Though it has to be pointed out the most vocal group of fans that still hold a grudge over the 24-year-old, who left BVB for their arch-rivals in 2013, does not attend team presentations.
This won't change the fact that the majority of Dortmund fans are happy to see the 2014 World Cup winner back in their own ranks.
It is also an effect of the evolution Gotze has taken within the past year. More has been written about Gotze's trimmed haircut than his performances since returning to BVB.
His transformation may not have been quite as drastic as Lancel Lannister's when he joined the Sparrows, but it appears that the 2014 World Cup winner has drawn a line and is determined to drastically change his public image.
During a career that hasn't quite excelled to promised heights, Gotze's brand became a high-end marketing machine during his time at Bayern. Several TV commercials and agency-designed tweets created an arrogant and unapproachable image of the "talent of the century" as Matthias Sammer once described him.
In May, Gotze not only switched agents and is now represented by his family as well as Munich-based agent Dr. Peter Duvinage, but also changed his marketing agency in June.
He hired media advisor Roland Eitel, who also consults Joachim Low and Jurgen Klinsmann. This version of Gotze "unplugged," if you will, is now ready to solely focus on his efforts on the field. He certainly has learned from previous mistakes.
And, to stay in line with Game of Thrones references, the 24-year-old was happy to do the walk of atonement when he re-joined Borussia Dortmund.
It was notable that the club printed a quote from Gotze in their official press release, where he stated that he would have not chosen Bayern in hindsight.
"Three years later, and now at 24 years of age, I am able to see the decision I made back then differently," Gotze said.
"I can understand the fact that many fans were unable to understand my decision. Nowadays I wouldn't make the same choice again."
Ironically enough, Bayern Munich may have done Borussia Dortmund a favour in luring their prodigy to the Allianz Arena.
Gotze won't have a chip on his shoulder about making the next step in his career anymore, but is ready to settle in Dortmund and most likely play for the club during his prime.
For his move back to the Westfalenstadion to work out, Gotze ultimately needs to develop into one of the pillars of the squad.
But in Dortmund he will get to play in his favoured position, which he hardly did under Pep Guardiola. Both Gotze and Thomas Tuchel agree that he will take a central role on the pitch.
The first friendly minutes against Sunderland and Athletic Bilbao already showed glimpses of what is to come for the playmaker.
Whether there will be some jeers or not from BVB fans in the Super Cup or further down the line, Gotze has cleared the way get back to his best in a Black and Yellow shirt.
For Tuchel, however, potential jeers for Gotze or inevitable ones for Mats Hummels are the smallest of his concern. After the 1-0 defeat to Bilbao on Tuesday, the coach admitted that he has a hard time lifting his team to play at their very best week after week.
In Saturday's news conference he reiterated the problems he was facing towards the beginning of the season.
"We have not just lost players, but we have also lost some real personalities," Tuchel said.
"We have added new young players to the squad, who are still developing as players.
"The language and the culture is new for the players from abroad. The different times when the players join in pre-season make the situation a bit more difficult."
Tuchel will have to use every precious minute to form his squad into a team. Up to this point, the Black and Yellows indicated their great potential, but did not show a lot of defensive stability in any of their friendlies.
If Bayern play close to their usual level on Sunday, the Super Cup has the potential to crush Dortmund's confidence before the start of the season.
On the flip side, Tuchel's youngsters -- and Gotze -- could receive a huge boost ahead of what could be massive season for BVB.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.