It’s just two days now until Huddersfield Town begin their Championship campaign by hosting Bournemouth at the John Smith's Stadium.

It represents a fair opening assignment given the strength of the clubs in the division this year, but the Cherries enter the season opener having finished 10th last season, just six points off a play-off berth, and will hope to go one better this time around in their second successive season at this level.

But while Mark Robins' charges have made tangible progress during pre-season, with fitness levels improving and the performances getting ever closer too, what sort of shape are Saturday's opening opponents in?

They have some exiting new signings, but also a key departure to contend with and the age-old second-season syndrome acting as a spectre over them as they look to show 2013/2014 was no fluke.

Here, Tom Marshall-Bailey answers the key questions Town fans will have about the south coast outfit...

So who's the manager these days?

Eddie Howe. He's a former Cherries defender who started out with the club in a playing capacity in 1994 and retired from the game in 2007 where it all began at Dean Court after brief spells with nearby Portsmouth and Swindon Town.

After retiring due to a long-standing knee injury, the 36-year-old went on to become the youngest manager in the Football League when he was appointed following the dismissal of Jimmy Quinn at the back end of 2008.

He had previously worked in a player-coach capacity under another former manager in Kevin Bond, as well as managing the Cherries' reserve outfit and actually left alongside Bond before returning under Quinn.

Despite losing both of his matches as caretaker boss, Howe was handed the reins on 19 January 2009 and helped the Cherries climb out of the League Two relegation zone and clinch survival.

His stock rose further by helping his charges set a club record with eight wins from their opening nine games the following season, leading to an approach from Peterborough United, who had just lost Darren Ferguson, but Howe rebuffed their advances.

He overcame the struggles of a transfer embargo being placed upon the club to help them to promotion to League One but became manager of Burnley in 2011, where he would spend just over 18 months before the prodigal son returned home once more to Dean Court and achieved another promotion, this time to the second tier, heights Bournemouth could only have dreamt of in recent years.

AFC Bournemouth's Manager Eddie Howe
AFC Bournemouth's Manager Eddie Howe
 

Who are the Bournemouth dangermen?

New striker Callum Wilson netted 21 goals for Coventry City last season prior to his move to the Cherries - finishing as League One's fourth hottest striker prospect in the process.

Wilson will be expected to fill the void left by Lewis Grabban, whose departure to Norwich City for a rumoured £3m fee triggered Howe's own move to bring the 22-year-old to the club.

Aside from Grabban's own 22 goals last year, Wilson's new strike partner Yann Kermorgant was able to find the net nine times in total after joining from Charlton Athletic in January, while Matt Ritchie - the Cherries' chief creative spark - also weighed in with the same figure.

The attacking trio will be a big threat to Huddersfield Town.

Are there any key men unavailable to face Town?

Bournemouth's primary worries are in goal, with Lee Camp and Darryl Flahavan both struggling with respective thigh injuries and the goalkeeping duo are facing a race against time to prove their fitness ahead of the season opener.

It should open the door for Liechtenstein youngster Benji Buchel to prove his worth at the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday after he impressed during pre-season.

Otherwise, Howe's only other treatment table worry is Elliott Ward, who is a long-term injury victim and the manager has revealed Baily Cargill - another talented young prospect - will be the temporary deputy to first-choice duo Tommy Elphick and Steve Cook.

Bournemouth goalkeeper Lee Camp could be missing for the trip to Huddersfield Town
Bournemouth goalkeeper Lee Camp could be missing for the trip to Huddersfield Town
 

How has the Cherries’ pre-season gone?

They opened their programme with a 2-2 draw in Copenhagen, where Ritchie and trialist Rakish Bingham netted, before a 4-0 win at Eastleigh (Brett Pitman, Simon Francis, Marc Pugh and Shaun MacDonald) before they hit Dorchester Town for 11.

Harry Arter, Kermorgant (four), Ritchie (two), Pitman (two), Wilson and Ben Whitfield all found the target before they succumbed to their only defeat of the close season at home to Premier League neighbours Southampton.

But they were soon back to winning ways thanks to goals from Tokelo Rantie, Pitman and Arter against fellow south coast rivals Portsmouth before beating Swansea City 3-1 thanks to Pugh's brace and a Pitman penalty.

They concluded a hugely promising pre-season with a 4-1 win at Oxford United, which featured Junior Stanislas' first goal for the club and a Wilson treble.

Who have been the key arrivals/departures to and from Dean Court this summer?

Dan Gosling (Newcastle United), Stanislas (Burnley) and Wilson (Coventry City) are the key arrivals. And don't be surprised to see each of the new triumvirate start at the John Smith's Stadium.

There have been a number of departures from Dean Court so far this summer, with Grabban the most high-profile.

The other men who have moved on are: Richard Hughes (Retired), Stephen Purches (Retired), Shwan Jalal (Bury), Matt Tubbs (AFC Wimbledon - loan), Ryan Allsop, Mohamed Coulibaly and Josh McQuoid (All Coventry City - loan), Miles Addison (Scunthorpe United).

Callum Wilson is the Cherries' high-profile purchase this summer
Callum Wilson is the Cherries' high-profile purchase this summer
 

Are Bournemouth still trying to strengthen their squad?

Howe has admitted he is still actively pursuing options ahead of the transfer window closing but his side's form in pre-season has meant any business is not a pressing concern just yet.

That could change if Elliott Ward suffers any setbacks in his return from injury, however. The Cherries look at their most threadbare in defence, with only Cargill to call upon beyond Elphick and Cook.

They look well-stocked in midfield areas but another forward addition could be on the cards if Pitman is offloaded.

Eddie Howe may need to bring in back-up options for the likes of Steve Cook in central defence
Eddie Howe may need to bring in back-up options for the likes of Steve Cook in central defence
 

How are they likely to line-up against Town?

Almost certainly it will be a 4-4-2 formation, possibly the following: Benji Buchel; Adam Smith, Tommy Elphick (capt), Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels; Matt Ritchie, Harry Arter, Dan Gosling, Junior Stanislas; Yann Kermorgant, Callum Wilson.

What are the expectations on the Cherries compared to Town?

Their top-10 finish last season saw them punch well above their weight and any similar position would certainly not be frowned upon by those above Howe given the loss of Grabban.

There is no pressure for the Cherries to achieve still further but that could play into the club's hands in some respects and fans will be hopeful they can bridge the six-point gap to the play-offs from last year as well as improving on their goal difference.