AND now it can begin.

Mickey Mouse has packed up his braces, Donald Duck has quacked off and Tinkerbell has fluttered her way to Neverland. It’s time for the real story to ignite.

Tonight represents the beginning of not just a new chapter in Braehead Clan’s story but the commencement of a journey that everyone connected with the Glasgow club hopes will turn into a fairy tale ending.

For the last four weeks Disney On Ice has forced John Tripp and his newly-assembled Clan on to the road. There have been highs, but generally more lows as a fresh band of brothers took to the highways across the UK for a harsh introduction to the Elite League.

This evening represents a homecoming of epic proportions. In Tripp’s first home league game in charge, a sell-out crowd of over 3500 will be waiting for their heroes in purple to return. Ready for this season’s adventure to properly explode into action.

“It’s not easy being on the road for that length of time. We couldn’t even practice at home. It takes its toll,” said the former German internationalist, whose side sit ninth in the EIHL table with two wins from six. “We obviously try and not take that into consideration but it does make a difference. It’ll be nice to get on home ice. It will give us more momentum, more edge, and the guys are happy to be back.

“In North America there’s a lot of travel but a lot for practice. When I was in Hamburg we had to drive 40 minutes every day so we were used to it. But for the guys here, it’s a lot of travel and it gets to you after a while. We’re at that point where we are ready to get back home because it does take it’s toll on you. At the moment they’ve been driving for an hour then being asked to work and then the gym.

“It’s not an excuse but we are definitely very happy about coming home and being part of this arena with the fans. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

Well one can only hope.

The stage is set for a classic. The ice is down, the banners of the club’s iconic players of the past have been unfurled, the Braehead Arena is poised for a night of passion and raucous fervour that Chip and Dale on a sledge simply can’t replicate.

The fact the opposition comes in the form of the Fife Flyers, Braehead’s oldest and fiercest rival, only adds further spice to the occasion.

“The fans are good here. The love hockey and have a good knowledge of the support which is nice to see,” said Trip. “I’m excited at the prospect of getting back in and having a home base to try and get some points. Any good team has to win at home so it’s a good chance for us.

“It just happens to be a derby game for the first one. I think we couldn’t have asked for a better opponent to play against. It’s sold out, it’ll be loud, if you can’t get ready for a game like this then you shouldn’t be playing hockey.

“I expect the guys to be a little bit nervous straight off the bat. Especially given the way we’ve been playing lately. Nobody wants to have a bad start. But once we get a hold of things we will do a good job. The intensity will pick up because a sold out crowd will be cheering. We need to get them into it right away and start building some momentum.”

In such a pressured environment, the threat of emotions bubbling over on the ice is as much of a stick on as a Minnie Mouse triple salchow. When the pair met in Edinburgh last month in the Scottish Cup, more punches were thrown than in the McGregor v Mayweather fight in Las Vegas.

While these flash points often bring the fans to their feet, which does serve a purpose, Tripp insists his players will be looking to be controlled in their aggression.

“I’m aware of it. I’ve been involved in hundreds of games like this before and it’ll be fun,” he said of the rivalry. “The intensity normally brings out the best and shows who the good players are. Nobody needs to explain that to me.

“We played Fife once in Edinburgh. That wasn’t our home barn but both fans were really emotional. I can just imagine how it will be on our ice. With intensity comes physicality. I’m not looking out for everyone to go out their way and hit guys, we have to play smart and do it the right way and at the right time.

“But we also want to send a message, and that message should be ‘hey, you push us we will push back’ and it’s about a way of attacking the opponent’s net and getting in their house. It’s not about a fight, that’s not what I’m asking for.

“When emotion comes in the guys need to be ready to go. The coach wants the team to be ready, be smart and stay within the structure. That will be crucial.”

Clan’s season got off to a flyer when they defeated Manchester Storm on home ice in the Challenge Cup, in what has been the only real competitive glimpse many of the Purple Army will have had of their team.

A squad filled with an array of fresh faces, Tripp is aware of what is needed tonight.

“We don’t have anyone [else],” he said about any new arrivals. “Ville Hamalainen who joined this week skated with the team for the first time on Friday and you can see that he’s got good experience.

“As a whole, I need my best players playing their best. That’s the only way you’re going to win. They know this and it’s up to them to do their job and show why we brought them in here.”