Malky Mackay

After years of succumbing to disappointment at the final stages, Cardiff sealed their promotion to the Premier League in an almost casual style back in April, finishing a wonderful season eight points clear at the summit.

But after the dust had settled and the hangovers had cleared, the realisation that surviving the top flight is an altogether different proposition than winning the Championship began to hit home. Cardiff have a lot of work to do.

Business so far

The Championship winners are yet to reveal their hand in the transfer market, but have released veterans Heidar Helguson and Stephen McPhail. Peter Whittingham appeared to be joining them after playing a peripheral figure in the club's promotion chase, but manager Malky Mackay has insisted the 28-year-old is part of his midfield plans, while veteran full back Kevin McNaughton has also been offered a new two year contract. Craig Bellamy's decision to retire from international football will be seen as an added bonus.

What they need

As is the case with all three clubs returning to the Premier League, squad strengthening is simply a prerequisite. The end of Leon Barnett's loan spell suggests an immediate replacement is required at centre half, while the club could desperately do with some fresh legs on the wings with Bellamy turning 34 this summer.

While dangerous enough in the Championship, the club must add to their forward options of Frazier Campbell and Nicky Maynard. While a terrific outlet on his day, Campbell's injury record cannot be ignored while Maynard is another who falls into the risky category of being unproven at Premier League level. Club owner Vincent Tan has pledged to hand the club a £25m transfer budget and they are likely to need every penny of it.

Who could join

Barnett, who performed so admirably in the absence of injured skipper Mark Hudson in the second half of the season, would be a terrific piece of business if Norwich City are willing to let him go. Former Everton defender Joseph Yobo has also been linked with a return to the Premier League, and could certainly provide that sound Premier League experience missing from the club's central defensive options.

While Tom Ince could be destined for a club higher up the food chain, Cardiff could certainly flourish with the England U21 star in tow. Failing that, Manchester City exile Scott Sinclair poses a similar option, if the club can ignore his links with rivals Swansea City. If Cardiff choose to pick the bones of those who plummented from the Premier League, QPR's Junior Hoilett presents the best option.

The Bluebirds have also been linked with an audacious move for Lyon forward Bafetimbi Gomis. The France international, who struck 18 goals in Ligue 1 last season, would surely take a sizeable chunk out of the club's transfer budget, but would underline theirs ambition to become a consistent fixture in the top flight. Sunderland flop Danny Graham may represent a more realistic option, however.

Who could leave

With top scorer Helguson already gone, Cardiff could be ready to say goodbye to a few other faces. Don Cowie and Tommy Smith, 30 and 32 respectively, are likely to have to search for new clubs if they want first team football next season as will Slovenian forward Etien Velikonja, who featrued three times last season.

What the manager has said

"Things are progressing, very much so. Our recruitment department is in a very busy period right now working through things," said Mackay. "Me and Iain (Moody, head of recruitment at Cardiff City) are in touch two or three times a day. He's beavering away.

"It is a slow period in many ways, but there is a lot of background work which needs to be done.

"At the moment I believe the most important thing for my players I believe is rest."

If Cardiff City need any inspiration of what can be achieved upon promotion, they can begrudgingly cast a glance at rivals Swansea City. Malky Mackay will certainly have his work cut out, but the club will undoubtedly be boosted simply by the euphoria of being back in the top flight.