The Azzurri may have finished nine points behind their northern rivals in May but the final gap betrayed what had been a close battle through much of the winter.
Walter Mazzarri's decision to move to Inter Milan caused a few jitters at Stadio San Paolo, until Champions League-winning coach Rafael Benitez was persuaded to lead a renewed bid for the Scudetto.
The insecurity that then followed Edinson Cavani's sale to Paris St Germain were soothed by the capture of Gonzalo Higuain, while Benitez has also taken Raul Albiol, Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon and Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina to Naples.
Macedonian forward Pandev remains from the Mazzarri era and, following a promising pre-season campaign, feels confident his side can start with a bang against Bologna.
He told Napoli's official website: "We want to start the season well and we have been working hard for a month. We need to start off with a good result.
"We had a great campaign last year but this time we want to win the Scudetto. That would be a triumph that would change our lives.
"I hope we can bring that happiness to the people of Naples and they deserve it after all these years."
Referring to Benitez, he added: "He is a coach with a lot of experience and a lot of history. We are all behind him and looking to get the best out of ourselves.
"The squad has improved thanks to him and there are now players here that have done well in the Champions League and across Europe. That's important."
Midfielders Pablo Armero and Blerim Dzemaili are suspended while striker Lorenzo Insigne is unavailable through injury.
Bologna, meanwhile, are missing defenders Niccolo Cherubin and Fredrik Sorensen but coach Stefano Pioli is expected to hand a debut to former Torino striker Rolando Bianchi.
The one-time Manchester City player has been tasked with replacing the goals of loan star Alberto Gilardino, who returned to Genoa after helping Bologna finish 13th with his 13 goals.