The Champions League makes a welcome return on Tuesday and it does so with arguably the most eye-catching clash of the competition's group phase. Real Madrid meet Manchester City at the Bernabeu in a contest between Europe's most historically successful club and the young upstarts still looking to make their mark on the continent's biggest stage.
Real have been crowned champions of Europe a record nine times, but have not done so since 2002. Everyone connected with the club is desperate that this season ends the wait for "la decima," a 10th Champions League/European Cup.
The omens are not good heading into their high profile first outing of the Champions League season. Just four games into the La Liga campaign, Real suffered their second defeat against Sevilla on Saturday to fall eight points behind great rivals Barcelona. Given that Los Blancos dropped just 12 points through the whole of last season, it is something more than just a stuttering start.
In the post-match press conference in Seville, the usually siege-mentality creating Jose Mourinho took the rare step of blaming the team's ills directly on certain members of his squad.
"I am worried that in this moment I don't have a team," Mourinho revealed, according to BBC Sport.
"There are very few heads who are committed and concentrated.
"The image of my team at this moment is a team without concentration, without the willingness to compete," he added.
With speculation still ongoing about the state of Cristiano Ronaldo's sadness, there is cause for concern for Real.
Still, it is incredibly early in the campaign and Mourinho is sure to ensure his side is fired up not only for a key game in what is a Champions League group stacked with pedigree like few others in recent seasons, but a meeting with a coach whom he would relish getting the better of.
Mourinho and his opposite number on Tuesday, Roberto Mancini, have a history that centers on the two successful coaches' time at Inter Milan. Mancini led the Italian giants to three successive Serie A titles between 2005 and 2008, but failure to produce success in Europe led president Massimo Moratti to replace the Italian with the heralded Portuguese Mourinho. The former Chelsea boss went onto maintain Inter's domestic dominance while also claiming the elusive Champions League in his second season before heading off in a blaze of glory to Madrid.
While Mourinho is never shy in lauding his achievements and is still revered at Inter, Mancini has suggested that he warrants merit for not just building the foundations for his successor's achievements but having "built the roof too."
There is perhaps more incentive for Mancini on Tuesday. After his disappointments in Europe with Inter, the 47-year-old saw his Manchester City side eliminated at the first hurdle in their first appearance in Europe's premier competition last season. With German champions Borussia Dortmund and Dutch champions Ajax making up the rest of Group D, Mancini knows that every match will be crucial to avoiding the same fate this time around.
While both Mancini and Mourinho have ample attacking talent at their disposal and their sides can often be scintillating to watch, there is still a strong feeling that their natural tendency remains an approach with a priority on keeping things tight defensively.
Visiting the Bernabeu on Tuesday, Mancini looks likely to revert to type. The question is: will Mourinho's side find the formula to break down the City rearguard?
Where to watch: The Champions League clash kicks-off from the Santiago Bernabeu at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream provided by FocSoccer2Go.