An influx of European coaches playing an adapted version of Jurgen Klopp's high-counter football - think West Ham, Watford, and Leicester - and a growing tendency for newly promoted clubs to confront their elders with attractive passing football has somewhat flattened the Premier League table.
For the first time in years, 2015/16 presents an opportunity for the homogenous cycle of Big Four domination to be broken once and for all. The new £5 billion TV deal will dramatically reduce the importance of global branding and match-day income from next year, but before we can dream of such levelling the old entrenchments must be overcome. Leicester, Tottenham, and West Ham have been given an unexpected opportunity to undermine the monopoly of the elite: the Champions League is no longer an impossible dream for mid-table clubs.
Make the top four this season and, with the insane cash windfall set to swell the bank accounts of all 20 clubs from next season, building a lasting empire is far from impossible. But do any of these teams have the legs to sustain their form until May, or will the power of the old order - Liverpool, Chelsea, and Man United - show that money is still the most important factor in success?
Assuming that Man City and Arsenal will safely qualify for the top four, we take a look at which of the five chasing sides will qualify for Europe's most prestigious tournament.
History may suggest that Leicester are destined for a top four finish but only seven points separates them from fifth place with half a season remaining; truthfully, the thinness of their squad and reliance on two or three individuals for creativity may lead to a devastating slide down the table as legs and minds tire.
Leicester's tactics are remarkably simple. Their 4-4-2 is reminiscent of the Premier League's 90s heyday, complete with high pressing, blood-and-guts defending; sweeping long balls into the channels; and a little and large striker partnership that aims to counter-attack with venom. It is the sheer tenacity of their tactical system that has been overwhelming opponents, but already there are signs that their ferocity is waning.
There is no doubt Leicester are an excellent side, but a swashbuckling style is built on confidence and plucky resilience. When (and not if) Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez enter a sticky patch of form it is easy to see the wheels coming off; no team can sustain momentum consistently over a 38 game season, and it is difficult to see who would step up and provide the goals. Demarai Gray is a very promising signing and N'Golo Kante will keep Leicester City driving forward, but it would not be surprising to see them ultimately finish 5th or 6th.
Don't back Leicester to finish top four at evens.
The most encouraging thing about Tottenham's recent form is their adaptability. Whilst Christian Eriksen has been struggling for form Dele Alli has moved to a more advanced midfield role, chipping in with some vital goals. Elsewhere, Erik Lamela, Mousa Dembele, and Tom Carroll have all shown intermittent flashes of quality that have helped to provide a sense of depth at Spurs, whilst the efficiency of their recent surprise 3-5-2 against Watford was further evidence of the tactical discipline Mauricio Pochettino has instilled in his players.
Eric Dier has had a monumental effect on their overall determination and fluency in central midfield, helping them build upon an impress 2014/15 campaign with greater coherence and consistency. Pundits have begun to predict Tottenham can challenge for the league title, and with some of last year's stars (Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason) and some new young talents (Clinton N'Jie, Kieran Tripper) waiting in the wings should injuries strike, it is easy to see why.
Back Spurs to finish top four at 2/5.
Louis van Gaal's system is stubbornly fixated on an out-dated ideal; it is too easy to counter their low tempo, short-passing football by sitting deep and absorbing pressure or pressing high and unsettling United's rhythm. However, it is telling that despite such difficulties they are only three points behind the universally respected Tottenham, and what's more there are signs that Van Gaal is relaxing his philosophy as the pressure mounts.
Wayne Rooney is beginning to move with greater freedom up front, whilst Juan Mata has clearly been given greater licence to attempt incisive through balls in the past month. Most encouragingly, Van Gaal seems to be gradually learning from his mistakes; Morgan Schneiderlin is finally being given an extended run in the first team, whilst Daley Blind has been moved out to the left. There are numerous problems still to be fixed at Old Trafford, but one or two big money signings in January would probably be enough to finish above Leicester.
Back United to finish top four at evens.
Liverpool are anticipated to challenge for a Champions League spot, but in truth this is more based on the reputation of the club and their manager than anything else. The disappointing draws against weaker opponents will likely continue through to the summer; Jurgen Klopp's tactical model is far too complex to instigate successfully midseason. The next six months are a freebie for Klopp, with performances and individual learning curves far more important than results.
Don't back Liverpool at 5/2.
Chelsea are 13 points off fourth, and some simple maths shows that their favourable odds (7th favourites) are undeserved. Assuming Tottenham's points to game ratio remains consistent, clubs will need 69 points to finish fourth this season. That means Chelsea need 46 points from their remaining 18 games, the equivalent of 2.6 points per match - or 97 points in total over the course of a 38 game season. When you add in a general lack of motivation for superstars residing in the bottom half of the league, their task is hopeless.
Don't back Chelsea at 6/1.