The outdoor athletics season gets under way proper on Friday when the Qatar Sports Club hosts the first leg of the prestigious 14-meet Diamond League, with all eyes on this summer's Olympic Games in London.
Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt will be absent, however, having preferred to make his season debut on home soil last weekend (with a world lead of 9.82sec over the 100m) and European bow in Ostrava, Czech Republic, later this month.
But a top-quality field has nevertheless been assembled for the kick-off of the global circuit that also sees events held in Shanghai, Rome, Eugene (USA), Oslo, New York, Paris, London and Monaco before the London Olympics.
The second part of the season recommences in Stockholm on August 17, and takes in Lausanne (Switzerland), Birmingham (England) and Zurich before climaxing in Brussels.
World 800m champion David Rudisha of Kenya was in no doubt about what the season had in store.
"This year is an Olympic year and that is my main focus, my priority," Rudisha said. "Doha is the first stepping stone towards that goal.
"To win the Olympics is important and that is what I'm so far missing."
Comments echoed by many of the athletes gathered in a sweltering Doha where day-time temperatures are currently topping 40 degrees Celsius (104F) and organisers are hoping to attract more people into the stadium than last year's distinctly average attendance for the early-evening event.
Star draws include not only Rudisha, who was deprived of an early season showdown with Ethiopian upstart Mohammed Aman (late withdrawal), but also former joint world record holders Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin facing off in the men's 100m.
"We've competed against each other nine times and I've won six," said Gatlin, who bounced back from a four-year doping ban in remarkable style by claiming a second world indoor 60m title in Istanbul in March (after his previous gold in 2003).
"It feels good to be in strong competition again. I'm always a competitor at heart.
"It will be a great gauge for me going into the next phase of my season."
Gatlin actually matched Powell's then-record 9.77sec over the 100m in Doha in 2006, the result later rescinded after the American failed a doping test, but he insisted he had only good memories of the Qatari capital.
"The night I broke the record was a magical night," the 30-year-old Brooklyn native said.
"I could see history being made on the track.
"Doha's a very special place for me and definitely an important part of my journey."
The US will be hoping for a sprint double with American Walter Dix, silver medallist in both the 100 and 200m at last year's world championships in Daegu, the strong favourite in the 200m.
Ethiopian running legend Kenenisa Bekele also runs in the 3000m, likely to be pushed all the way by a strong Kenyan contingent led by Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi, recently crowned world indoor silver and bronze medallists, Eliud Kipchoge.
The defending 5000m and 10,000m Olympic champion, and world record-holder in both events, Bekele has spent almost two years on the sidelines due to a string of injuries, making his comeback last September when he won the 10,000m in Brussels.
In his first ever outing in Doha, the Ethiopian has also opted to put himself under pressure by opting to race a 3000m -- an event he has not competed in since his triumph at the World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki in September 2009.
The women's 3000m will feature the reigning world champion in both the 5000m and 10,000m, Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot.
Cheruiyot will be joined by team-mate Pamela Jelimo, the Olympic 800m champion and recently-crowned world indoor champion going for a morale-boosting victory in the two-lap event on the long road to London.