Taking stock of the Red Sox as the first batch of reporters take off for Fort Myers and the unofficial start of spring training this week. .?.?.

• Since the rebirth of the Red Sox in 2003, has there been a club with less buzz, less fan interest, fewer expectations than this one?

But on the flip side, might we finally be in for a surprise?

The relationship between fans and team, particularly at Fenway Park, has never been more complicated. During the last decade, Sox fans have morphed from flushed by the thrill of the chase (2003-04) to I-don't-care-if-they-ever-win-another-game (2005-06) to drunk on power, let's make it rain! (2007-08) to impatient and entitled (2009-10) to consumed by furious, righteous anger (2011-12).

That's quite the gamut of emotions, and it has been reflected in a Fenway distinctly lacking buzz and excitement recently, nullifying what once stood as the game's greatest home-field advantage to such an extent that last year's miserable Sox actually won one more game on the road (35) than at home.

Those 69 wins have a way of dialing back expectations, however, and that's probably not a bad thing for a franchise looking to regain its spark.

To truly convert their jaded fans, the Sox will probably need to win with their homegrown talent. But until those guys arrive, they could do worse than to overachieve and become surprise contenders this year.

• ??After so much dysfunction, it's going to be strange to walk into a clubhouse and not see Bobby Valentine, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, et al.

While the impact of "great clubhouse guys," can be greatly overstated (gimme Manny Ramirez over any five solid citizens), these Sox needed to hit a giant reset button, and they have.

Valentine did more to poison his own clubhouse than Socrates in a field of hemlock. Beckett was selfish and immature and even though his former teammates stand by him, they're better off without him. Youkilis did everything right on the field, but within the clubhouse, his constant negativity became trying. As for Gonzalez, he struggled trying to be something he's not — a natural-born leader, and face of a franchise.