LIVINGSTON are headed into a fifth consecutive top-flight season with one common theme during the club’s time back in the Scottish Premiership; the Lions are serial overachievers.

This is said not with the intention to belittle the management team or playing staff at the club, but instead to heap praise on the ability to achieve with a fraction of the resources of rival clubs.

Since the return to the top division in Scotland Livingston have recorded finishes in ninth, fifth, sixth and seventh. It’s a remarkable feat for a club with a significant turnover in squad members and obvious financial limitations.

It's almost certain whatever expectations are forced upon the club from outwith the Tony Macaroni will be disregarded – and often blown out the water.

It’s no different this season which could – as for many teams – be the most testing season in recent years with Aberdeen back competing, Hibs likely to improve from last year, Hearts strong and Dundee United and Motherwell in serious contention for the top six.

Livingston, for all their successes in recent history will likely be among the clubs tipped for a bottom-half finish. It’s understandable given the heightened competition for a top-six berth only made obvious by the cruel last-gasp equaliser against Motherwell which consigned Livingston to the bottom six last term. However, it’d come as little surprise to see David Martindale’s sides defy the odds again, not only to keep their top-flight status but to achieve a solid finish in the Scottish Premiership table again.

Martindale has had a relatively active summer period with six new faces checking in at the Tony Macaroni as the same number headed for the exit on permanent moves.

Alan Forrest and Craig Sibbald led the notable departures with the former heading to Hearts and the latter making a switch to Jack Ross’ Dundee United. Keghan Jacobs ended his long association with the club as he made the move to Arbroath with Gavin Reilly, Jack McMillan and Carlo Pignatiello also ending their time at the club.

While Martindale may have predicted some of the exits, he was also expecting a battle to keep a couple of key players in Jack Fitzwater and Max Stryjek. English central defender Fitzwater had been touted with a transfer back down south but so far Martindale has kept the impressive stopper – and should that remain the same it may be the best (lack of) business Livingston do ahead of the new season. Stryjek was another who was tipped to attract serious transfer attention, but he too remains contracted at Livi and could even struggle to hold onto his No1 spot with Shamal George joining Livingston from Colchester United.

Jamie Brandon – formerly of Hearts – and 21-year-old centre-back Phillip Cancar are two new additions to the Livingston rearguard for the upcoming season with Scott Bitsindou adding depth in defensive midfield after a move from Belgian side KSK Lierse.

But Livingston fans will be hoping it’s new attacking additions Esmael Goncalves and Dylan Bahamboula who will aid to the firepower of Bruce Anderson up-front.

Anderson was among the top scorers last season and was the only Livingston man to hit double figures but Bahamboula and Goncalves should chip in with a few goals as well as Joel Nouble.

It’s often the case for some teams that one player can take up a talisman position at the club and single-handedly provide major moments to shape a season – but for Livingston it’s never really been that way. Instead it’s often a collective that bring the best out of Livingston – and for Martindale that seems to be the plan again with ever present stars Nicky Devlin, Jason Holt and Scott Pittman all gearing up for another season in the yellow and black.

One thing you can guarantee is that Livingston will be resolute, hard working and hard to beat, both at the tricky venue of the Tony Macaroni and on the road.

For it to be another successful season – and perhaps sneak back into the top  six again – a better start than last term is essential. Martindale’s men went six matches before their first win came against eventual champions, Celtic. And they’d only pick up 12 points from the first round of fixtures.

Should a sticky start be avoided then they’d be in a good spot to make a move for a top-half finish with the club showing decent form in the second-half of last season with a much improved points return in the second-half of the season.

When it comes to cup runs, Livingston will be looking to make a fist of it in both competitions after making it out of the Premier Sports groups as a runner up.

They take on Dundee United in the next round and will aim to better their quarter-final exit last season. Similarly a Scottish Cup run would be welcomed after exiting in the fifth round to a Hearts penalty shoot-out defeat last time round.

Manager: David Martindale

Captain: Nicky Devlin

Key player: Bruce Anderson will be instrumental again if Livingston are to continue to defy odds. The striker netted 11 times in the Scottish Premiership – just two off top scorers Regan Charles-Cook and Giorgos Giakoumakis – and will be looked to again to provide firepower for the Lions.

In: Esmael Goncalves (free transfer), Dylan Bahamboula (Oldham), Phillip Cancar (Western Sydney Wanderers), Scott Bitsindou (KSK Lierse), Jamie Brandon (Hearts), Shamal George (Colchester).

Out: Alan Forrest (Hearts), Craig Sibbald (Dundee Utd), Gavin Reilly (Queen of the South), Jack McMillan (Partick Thistle), Keaghan Jacobs (Arbroath), Carlo Pignatiello (Morton), Jack Hamilton (Hartlepool loan), Harrison Clark (Stirling loan), Jaze Kabia (Morton loan), Brian Schwake (Morton loan).

Last season: Another season punching well above their weight led to a seventh placed finish, however, had it not been for a cruel stoppage time leveller against Motherwell a top-half spot would’ve been secured. Matindale’s men will be tipped for a relegation fight again, but it’d be no surprise to see them competing higher up the table.