There is plenty to admire about AS Monaco at the moment.
Few, if any teams on the continent can boast as many talented future stars of world football as Monaco do with the likes of Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and teenage striking sensation Kylian Mbappe, all showing a ridiculous amount of promise.
They are supplemented by a rejuvenated old head in the form of Radamel Falcao, whose return to form following two and a half abject years has been one of the feel-good stories of the campaign.
Add into the mix the fact that they are stupidly entertaining to watch (148 goals scored and counting this season) are managed by an up-and-coming Portuguese tactician (yep, another one) and play in a small stadium set in a beautiful location and it seems everything is geared towards success.
Rewind just a few short years, though, and their situation was far different. In the summer of 2012, Monaco were preparing for a second consecutive campaign in France’s second-tier, Ligue 2, after ending a lowly 8th the year previous.
Following a disappointing six months in charge of the club, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev spent that summer assembling a squad capable of gaining promotion to Ligue 1 and appointed the experienced Claudio Ranieri as manager to oversee things.
It worked. Monaco finished top of the league, six points clear of FC Nantes and have shed their tag as sleeping giants to become a force in French and European football once more.
The current Monaco squad are competing for major honours but what happened to the group of players who secured that vital promotion four years ago?
Goalkeeper: Danijel Subasic
2012-13 stats: 36 apps
Monaco appearances: 229
Current club: Monaco
The Croatian shot-stopper was one of the first arrivals of the Rybolovlev era, joining from Hadjuk Split in January 2012 and he has been the club’s no.1 ever since, even holding off competition from Sergio Romero in 2013-14.
Defender: Andrea Raggi
2012-13 stats: 37 apps (4 goals)
Monaco appearances: 187
Current club: Monaco
Ranieri raided Bologna in his homeland to land the experienced Raggi in 2012 and he too is still at the club having played an important squad role in recent years.
Defender: Gary Kagelmacher
2012-13 stats: 36 (3)
Monaco appearances: 54
Current club: Maccabi Haifa
A strong defender of dual Uruguayan and German nationality, Kagelmacher arrived at Monaco from now defunct Belgian club Germinal Beerschot whom he joined after four years on the books of Real Madrid.
Kagelmacher was a key figure in Monaco’s promotion but was loaned out to Ligue 1 rivals Valenciennes the following season and has since played for 1860 Munich and Maccabi Haifa.
Defender: Andreas Wolf
2012-13 stats: 21 (2)
Monaco appearances: 25
Current club: Retired
Having spent the entirety of his career in Germany, Wolf opted for a change of scene by joining Monaco in 2012 where he retired from the game two years later.
He has since switched his attentions to coaching and was most recently the assistant coach at FC Nürnberg’s II team.
Defender: Georgios Tzavellas
2012-13 stats: 27 (2)
Monaco appearances: 41
Current club: Alanyaspor
Signed from Eintracht Frankfurt in January 2012, Tzavellas was Monaco’s first choice left-back for the majority of his 18-month spell at the club but was sold to PAOK following the emergence of Layvin Kurzawa.
As of January this year, the Greek international has played for Alanyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig.
Defender: Layvin Kurzawa
2012-13 stats: 13 (1)
Monaco appearances: 95
Current club: PSG
Kurzawa graduated through Monaco’s youth academy before making his first-team debut in 2010. It wasn’t until the 2013-14 campaign that he truly established himself as a regular in the side.
Following two exceptional campaigns in Ligue 1, Kurzawa completed a £21.25m move to Monaco’s title rivals PSG.
Midfielder: Delvin N’Dinga
2012-13 stats: 28
Monaco appearances: 29
Current club: Lokomotiv Moscow
Congolese international N’Dinga was highly-rated when he joined Monaco from Auxerre in 2012 and he featured regularly during the title-winning campaign.
The arrival of high-profile midfielders such as Joao Moutinho and Geoffrey Kondogbia meant that he lost his place and he has since worn the colours of Olympiacos and Lokomotiv Moscow.
Midfielder: Nampalys Mendy
2012-13 stats: 35
Monaco appearances: 80
Current club: Leicester City
Another graduate of Monaco’s acclaimed academy, Mendy emerged as a first-team regular the previous season and became even more important to the side in 2012-13.
As was the case with N’Dinga, he lost his place after promotion to Ligue 1 and he left to join Nice before linking up with Ranieri again at Leicester City last summer.
Midfielder: Mounir Obbadi
2012-13 stats: 16
Monaco appearances: 51
Current club: OGC Nice
A creative midfielder and full Moroccan international, Obbadi moved to Monaco from Troyes midway through the season and helped the side get over the finish line.
Obbadi managed to force his way into Monaco’s star-studded midfield on a consistent basis in their first season back in Ligue 1 but since 2014 he has played for Hellas Verona, Lille and in-form Nice.
Midfielder: Nabil Dirar
2012-13 stats: 35 (3)
Monaco appearances: 165
Current club: Monaco
Another Moroccan international, Dirar moved to Monaco for £5m from Club Brugge in January 2012 and was a regular in the side that won the Ligue 2 title.
Since Monaco’s return to the top-flight, Dirar has predominantly been used as a substitute but he has still amassed over 30 appearances in all competitions this term.
Forward: Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco
2012-13 stats: 30 (8)
Monaco appearances: 103
Current club: Atletico Madrid
Ferreira-Carrasco’s immense potential was spotted by Monaco in 2010 when he was playing for KRC Genk’s youth team but it wasn’t until two years later that he truly made his mark.
An indifferent first season in Ligue 1 was followed by an extremely eye-catching second leading to a move to Atletico Madrid where he has continued to develop impressively, even scoring in last season’s Champions League final.
Forward: Lucas Ocampos
2012-13 stats: 32 (5)
Monaco appearances: 96
Current club: AC Milan (on loan from Marseille)
The £11m capture of Ocampos from River Plate signalled Monaco’s first big splash in the transfer market following their takeover and the live wire Argentine winger showed flashes of his undoubted potential early on.
His career at Stade Louis II faded post-promotion, though, and he was sold to Marseille who have allowed him to leave on loan to Genoa and Milan in the last couple of seasons.
Forward: Emmanuel Riviere
2012-13 stats: 13 (3)
Monaco appearances: 50
Current club: Osasuna (on loan from Newcastle United)
Riviere opted to drop down a division when joining Monaco from Toulouse in January 2013 but his decision was vindicated as six months later his new club were crowned Ligue 2 champions.
In total, Riviere netted an extremely respectable 17 goals in 50 games for the club, however, his career has stalled following a dreadful spell at Newcastle United and an equally below-par stint with Osasuna this season.
Forward: Ibrahima Toure
2012-13 stats: 40 (21)
Monaco appearances: 56
Current club: Unattached
A towering centre forward who joined Monaco after spending much of his career in Asia, Toure’s goals were crucial in leading Monaco back to the top-flight.
Unsurprisingly, the multi-million signing of Radamel Falcao relegated the Senegalese forward to the bench and he is currently without a club after last featuring for Chinese side Liaoning Whowin until Feburary.
Forward: Valere Germain
2012-13 stats: 38 (15)
Monaco appearances: 192
Current club: Monaco
An unheralded member of the current squad, Germain also rose through the youth ranks at Monaco before forcing himself into the team during the club’s Ligue 2 days.
He was sent out on loan to Nice for the 2015-16 season but after scoring 14 goals for them was welcomed back into the fold at Monaco this term and he is their vice-captain.