Nelson Mandela died. So did Lou Reed and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl. The Winter Olympics came and went. There were 10 point-paying NASCAR Sprint Cup races, and five rounds of the F1 world championship. When your off-season lasts 162 days, a lot can happen in the meantime.
This weekend, IndyCar finally turns the lights back on. None of the really big parts of the puzzle have changed: the DW12 is entering its third year of service, Honda and Chevrolet continue to share the responsibility for making the cars noisy, and aero kits are still a year down the road.
It's the little things that are going to provide the early spice, and in true IndyCar style, subplots are already in rich supply.