The upcoming battle for Champions League spots won't just be the strangest we've ever seen. It will also be the most crucial in Premier League history.
Covid-19's ability to upset the plans of even the biggest clubs has already become apparent. Liverpool had earmarked Timo Werner as the ideal player to augment their strike force. But the new financial constraints imposed on the club meant the RB Leipzig striker signed for Chelsea instead.
Chelsea, thanks to the two-window transfer embargo imposed upon them by UEFA which ended in February, can still afford to spend big. They're on the verge of signing the brilliant Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and may well beat Bayern Munich in the race to capture Bayer Leverkusen wonder boy Kai Havertz. But they're the exception.
That's why missing out on next season's Champions League will be disastrous for clubs with big-time ambitions. Last season's finalists Liverpool and Spurs earned a combined €220 million between prize money and broadcasting rights.
This kind of money is welcome at the best of times but will be an absolute godsend for clubs in unprecedentedly perilous financial territory. So, while the absence of spectators may lend something of a phoney-war appearance to proceedings, the competition will be fiercer than ever.
Third-placed Leicester City look safe while Chelsea and Manchester United appear likely to battle it out for fourth. But if Manchester City's two-season European ban is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) next month, fifth will also be good enough for a Champions League place.
That would leave Wolves, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Spurs in a race which would also include Manchester United if the inconsistency that has dogged them under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returns. It would be a battle royale with a host of crucial six-pointers during the run-in.
Cynics may suspect that a club as big and well-connected as City will find some loophole to escape through. But, as it stands, their exclusion from next season's competition will serve the cause of competitive excitement as well as that of sporting justice.
Pep Guardiola insists that his future lies with City and some would argue that the appointment of old mentor and friend Juanma Lillo as assistant manager proves the Catalan is in it for the long haul.
Yet there has been an unmistakable staleness about City this season. You wonder how things will stand between Guardiola and the club's owners should he once again fail to secure the Champions League victory which has eluded him since his Barcelona days.
That Champions League will be full of uncertainties. Which teams will cope best with the quickfire tournament finale planned by UEFA? Will Bayern Munich and Leipzig have an advantage because they were back in action a month earlier than everyone else? Will it help or hinder Paris Saint-Germain that they have no domestic league to play in?
The Premier League is an equally intriguing prospect and might be profoundly affected by the lockdown. Chelsea have had a good couple of months. Not only do the new signings indicate continued confidence in Frank Lampard but the hiatus came just when his exciting young team was starting to look tired.
Spurs, once resigned to finishing the season without Harry Kane, will welcome him back after he recovered from his hamstring injury during the lay-off. Manchester United will have a fully fit Paul Pogba who may be motivated by the knowledge that in the post-Covid era the number of clubs willing to meet his wage demands has dropped precipitously. He might be as well off giving it his best shot at Old Trafford.
The return of those star players will be a huge boost for two managers whose careers hang in the balance. There were hints earlier in the year that Solskjaer might finally be about to repay United's faith but a finish outside the top five would probably doom the Norwegian.
Jose Mourinho's credibility, at an all-time low after he left Old Trafford, seemed in danger of dipping even further as an injury-hit Spurs started struggling after a good start to his reign. The lockdown came at a good time for him too. A Champions League spot for Spurs would represent one of his finest achievements.
Then there are the dark horses, Wolves and Sheffield United. They might benefit from the fact that, with huge home crowds influencing referees no longer a factor, trips like that of the Blades to Old Trafford next week look a lot less daunting now.
Though it could be that, as Bayern have proved in the Bundesliga and Aidan O'Brien on the racecourse, class will be out irrespective of the ambience surrounding it.
Reopening night on Wednesday sees an intriguing clash between Manchester City and Arsenal or, if you like, between Guardiola and Mikel Arteta, his former assistant and perhaps eventual successor.
Arteta's performance in his first job as manager is probably being subjected to as much scrutiny at the Etihad as at the Emirates. An Arsenal victory in two days' time would carry an unmistakable significance while reigniting the Gunners hopes of a Champions League return.
It seems a long time since Britain's politicians began the Covid-19 crisis by scapegoating the Premier League clubs and players as examples of all that was wrong with society. Two months later, with the worst virus death toll on the continent, pitched battles on the streets of London and opinion polls showing the highest level of dissatisfaction with government handling of the crisis in Europe, it's clear those politicians should have paid more attention to the beam in their own eye.
Unlike much of England, this week the Premier League will be open for business. In a country which has been getting everything else wrong, this is no small achievement. We doubted that it could be done but it has been.