It began with the memory of a 93-loss season, a last-place finish and the dysfunctional reign of manager Bobby Valentine still fresh in the minds of the team and its fans.
There were a few middling signings: so-called "character guys" Jonny Gomes, Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino. No real big splashes. The biggest change was in the manager's office, where former pitching coach John Farrell took over for Valentine.
A part of SportsNet Central's Year in Review, we look back at the 2013 Red Sox. As the season began, there was no real indication that this team would pull off one of the most remarkable turnarounds in baseball history.
Still, as players grew their beards, these Sox grew on the fans. On the field, there were walk-off wins and, unlike the past two seasons, a September surge, not a late-season slump. These propelled Boston to the American League East title.
The Sox made quick work of the Rays in the Division Series, dispatching pesky Tampa Bay in four games.
In the ALCS, facing what would've been an 0-2 series hole heading to Detroit, the Sox were saved by - who else? - David Ortiz, their lone leftover from the glorious 2004 comeback against the Yankees. This time, it was a Big Papi grand slam in Game 2 against the Tigers at Fenway that tied the score at 5. An inning later, the Sox walked off with the victory on the way to winning the next three of four.
Another grand slam, this one from Victorino in Game 6, put away the Tigers. It was on to the World Series against a familiar Fall Classic foe, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ortiz again gave an otherworldly performance. He hit .688, reaching base 19 times in 25 plate appearances. On top of that, the Sox overcame a controversial obstruction call that ended Game 3, bouncing back to win the next three in a row and claim their third world championship since 2004.
None of the title runs were more improbable than the worst-to-first ride of 2013.