Ukraine's first successful qualifying campaign for the European Championships was far from straightforward, initially played out against a backdrop of civil and political unrest amid persistent fighting in the east of the country between armed forces and pro-Russian separatists following the annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Such a conflict had a real impact on the nation's football structure, with nine-times Premier League winners Shakhtar Donetsk forced to leave their formerly plush home at the Donbass Arena and play home fixtures more than 1000km away in the western city of Lviv.
Eventually finishing third behind reigning champions Spain and Slovakia in Group C, Ukraine, who co-hosted Euro 2012 alongside Poland and finished bottom of their group despite Andriy Shevchenko's heroics against Sweden, secured a 2-0 advantage in their play-off meeting with Slovenia before surviving a second-leg scare in Maribor. However, most of the focus in the build-up to next month's finals has centred around disputed allegations of politically motivated selection that saw manager Mykhaylo Fomenko neglect to include any Russian-based players in his provisional 25-man squad. A previous spat between Taras Stepanenko and Andriy Yarmolenko has also been high on the agenda, with the duo insisting that they had now resolved their differences.
One player who, barring any late injury mishap, will definitely feature in France is Yevhen Konoplyanka. Along with Dynamo Kiev's Yarmolenko, the pacy left-winger represents Ukraine's chief attacking threat and has already amassed over 50 senior international caps since making his debut six years ago.
Beginning his career with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk at the age of 16, Konoplyanka built a promising reputation in his home country. He helped Juande Ramos' side to finish second behind Shakhtar in 2014 after seeing a prospective €15m (£11.4m, $16.7m) January move to Liverpool collapse at the final hurdle due to owner Ihor Kolomoyskyi's apparent reluctance to sign the necessary paperwork.
Also a target for Tottenham Hotspur, the 26-year-old was a crucial part of the team that provided brief respite from the problems building in Ukrainian football by beating Olympiacos, Ajax, Club Brugge and Napoli en route to their first European final under Myron Markevych. They eventually fell 3-2 to Sevilla in an absorbing Europa League showpiece in Warsaw, after which an out-of-contract Konoplyanka secured a free transfer to Andalusia and was lavishly praised by his new employers as "one of the jewels of European football" and among the most desirable talents on the market.
Although his ability is not in question, the player has yet to really hit his stride at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and started only 15 La Liga matches in 2015/16, with a further 17 appearances coming from the substitutes' bench. Despite proving so influential for Dnipro 12 months previously and featuring frequently during the group stages of the Champions League, Konoplyanka was a peripheral figure in Europe's secondary competition this time around as Sevilla set new records by overcoming Liverpool at St Jakob-Park to win it for the third year in succession and the fifth time overall.
"Konoplyanka needs to learn how to compete", was the harsh assessment of highly-rated and relentlessly meticulous Los Rojiblancos boss Unai Emery, who turned in vain to his inconsistent summer signing late in the second-half of a bad-tempered 2-0 Copa del Rey final defeat to champions Barcelona at Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon last weekend.
A naturally cautious coach who favours a hard-working 4-2-3-1 formation with two holding midfielders, the demanding Emery is evidently yet to be convinced that, like Gerard Deulofeu before him, Konoplyanka is disciplined and physical enough to fulfil the defensive obligations necessary to succeed in his established system.
A potential change in philosophy amid rumours that Emery has already been approached by Everton to take the reins at Goodison Park following the dismissal of Roberto Martinez could work to his advantage ahead of next season. However, an influential and well-rounded performance at the Euros could be critical for Konoplyanka to convince his current manager that he is up to the task.