The return of any former manager is always a glimpse of the past up against the present and the future.
It will be no different tomorrow when Ronald Koeman strides back into St Mary’s for the first time since his controversial departure to Everton.
Koeman was a huge success at Saints, but times have changed quickly with Claude Puel trying to put his own stamp on the team.
Here, we take a look at how two very different managers compare as they prepare to go head-to-head.

Claude Puel has instigated a marked shift in the way Saints are playing.
The first thing he did was to rip up the 4-2-3-1 formation that had been so successful under Ronald Koeman, and Mauricio Pochettino before him.
There is little argument that that decision was anything other than a surprise, given the majority of the squad who achieved such success in that formation were still at the club.
However, Puel had other ideas, and his diamond midfield is starting to take a bit more shape as time goes by and the players get used to it, and the slight variations within it depending on who Saints are facing.

As well as changing the formation, the style of Saints’ play has altered considerably.
Few could quite believe what they were seeing when Saints hosted Liverpool, as the team sat so deep and compact, despite being at home, and were holding on to frustrate the opposition.
Under Koeman, Saints would happily go toe-to-toe with anybody, generally with good results.
Though Puel said he didn’t set the team up to play that way, he has a more cautious approach.
It is partly borne out of his insistence that with so many games to play this season – a burden the like of which Koeman never had – that Saints need to be clever to conserve energy.
Gone is any kind of high press, instead replaced by staying a lot more compact, keeping possession at the back, and patiently building up.
It is not as dynamic as Pochettino’s high press or Koeman’s want to get the ball forward quickly, but Puel is proving it can be effective.

Squad management
With so many more games to worry about, this has been a real priority for Puel, and his general approach is very different to Koeman.
The Dutchman was more of an old school type of manager. You were either in his plans or you weren’t.
It wasn’t that he refused to change his mind altogether, but once his decision was made it was difficult to reverse it.
That did lead a few members of the squad looking frozen out and he wasn’t desperately impressed by some of the younger players.
Puel does have many more games to manage, and so inevitably has to call upon more players.
He has publicly insisted on numerous occasions that he believes in all his squad, and has backed that up by ensuring that everybody is involved.
It has definitely brought the squad together and united them in a common purpose. He has also looked to keep the young talent coming through.

It is very hard to judge Puel on this one, given his fairly recent arrival.
Koeman spent very well during his time at Saints. He really did totally overhaul the playing staff in just a couple of years.
Puel has had less chance to make an impact, but will partly be judged in the interim on the performances of Sofiane Boufal.
Though Saints were already scouting him, he was a player Puel really wanted, having worked with him before.
For Saints to shell out a club record £16m means he is a significant purchase, and one that needs to come off for Puel to look successful in this area.
Things will no doubt get harder for him as in time he has to replace some big names, as Koeman had to.

Koeman had an easier ride in this respect, in that Saints didn’t really have severe fixture congestion during his time.
In fairness to Koeman, he never once looked to just ditch any cup competition, as he realised they were important to the supporters.
However, as Saints never got to any finals - nor semi finals, come to that - he was able to maintain his focus on the league and the race to qualify for Europe.
Thanks in part to him, Saints are enjoying the Europa League this season, but it has brought problems for Puel.
Saints’ squad is still comparatively small, and so it is a balancing act.
Puel has tended to slightly favour the Premier League, but has tried to ensure progress in all competitions, and so far it is going well.

In terms of pure personalities they really are complete opposites.
Whereas Koeman was so strong and authoritative, so open and never afraid to speak his mind, Puel is far more reserved and quiet.
There has been an element of a language barrier. Koeman was fluent in English whereas Puel has been improving as he has gone along.
Now he has settled in, Puel is starting to loosen up and his answers are always thoughtful and considered.
His softly spoken approach and a slightly unfair reputation for being a little dull has meant Saints have disappeared from national newspaper, TV and radio coverage a little.
But for those who make the effort, there is no doubt Puel is settling in and getting used to his surroundings.

Supporter relations
Koeman was hugely popular during his time at Saints, of course an inevitable by-product of his having been so successful.
They warmed to the ice cool manager and it made the manner of his departure all the more difficult for some to accept.
Puel has been more of a slow burner, but now that the fans can see what he is trying to achieve, and that it can be successful, they are starting to appreciate him more.