Tottenham begin their season with a tricky away trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday and they must take this as an immediate chance to show they will not be toothless without Gareth Bale.

While the forward continues to be absent with a foot complaint there remains little prospect he will offer the same show of solidarity with his Spurs teammates as he did with the Wales squad earlier this week. There is diminished hope of seeing him travel to Selhurst Park to offer any cheer.

There have even been reports that Bale has gone as far as to say he will not wear the white of Tottenham again. Whether or not this reveals itself to be true, the Spurs players must offer him just as little sentiment.

They must show they can get on with qualifying for the Champions League without him and a comprehensive opening day victory will be the perfect amuse-bouche. But because of the complicated nature of Tottenham's pre-season, how they will fare is difficult to predict.

The first nugget of encouragement is that, while all of their top-four rivals except Manchester City have struggled to obtain their transfer targets (Chelsea with Wayne Rooney, Arsenal with Luis Suarez and Manchester United with Cesc Fabregas), Tottenham have been prolific.

The Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas has been able to replace some deadwood with real quality. Roberto Soldado was Valencia's captain and top goalscorer and is the prolific Number 9 Tottenham have been searching for for some time.

Paulinho - the new darling of Brazil - would lazily be described as an answer to Frank Lampard, while Nacer Chadli is talked about as a real prospect and Etienne Capoue, a former target of Arsenal's, joined officially earlier today.

There were glimpses of what Paulinho, Soldado and Chadli have to offer in the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw with Espanyol, and Soldado in particular gave every indication that he will be quickest off the mark. All of these new signings will of course be concentrating on a personal statement of intent both at a new club and in a new league.

But Villas-Boas may have hoped these players had featured more in pre-season. Only Chadli has played more than once, and thus it may take a significant portion of Sunday's opener, if not a number of games for Paulinho, Chadli and Capoue to find their touch.

And then there are the injury problems. Tottenham's centre-back pairing is a misty meadow to say the least, with Michael Dawson appearing to be the only fully fit centre-half, and he has struggled with knocks throughout the break.

This Sunday will be a year to the day since Younes Kaboul made his last appearance - his only other being that as a second-half substitute against Espanyol as he made his return from serious, long-term injury. Kaboul is short of sharpness, and Jan Vertonghen is also having to push hard to recover from an ankle problem picked up in Hong Kong. 

With William Gallas released and Steven Caulker sold, that leaves the as-yet unconvincing and inexperienced Zeki Fryers, who played at centre-back in pre-season, and the newcomer Capoue as the only clear options to partner Dawson at this point. That is far from ideal.

Important midfielder Mousa Dembele missed Belgium's midweek international with France because of a knock too, and as yet there is no indication of whether or not he will be available. He will be sorely missed if he is absent. Sandro has not played a Premier League game since January and Paulinho has not played a Premier League game at all.

It will be interesting to see who plays in midfield, now that both Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone have moved to Hull City, and Lewis Holtby struggles with a knee problem. Holtby is another who hasn't featured at all in pre-season. Tottenham do still have Scott Parker, but he too appears close to a permanent exit from White Hart Lane, and so Gylfi Sigurdsson could well be deployed in the middle.

Then there are the opponents themselves. Newly promoted teams playing at home on the opening day must not be underestimated, no matter how deep the chasm between their quality and that of Tottenham. Palace have strived for a long time to return to the Premier League and that spirit will outshine their appearance on paper.

Only Southampton lost their first home game out of the newly promoted teams last season and when Ian Holloway brought Blackpool up in 2010 he earned immediate plaudits for their performance in an opening day draw with Fulham. 

For Spurs, this will be anything but a pleasant stroll through the Palace.

Tottenham should have all the assets to make an immediate statement about their attitude towards a season that will potentially be without their best player, but this is something they will have to declare forthright. Stuttering and stumbling to anything less than a victory will not do for Spurs fans.